.The Federation, the umbrella association of hotels, tour operators and others, insists on palliative from the Federal Government. By Justina Okpanku
As Nigeria joined the rest of the world to celebrate the United Nations World Tourism Day (WTD), Monday, President, Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN), Mr Nkereuwem Onung has announced a shift in the narratives by the private operators in the tourism industry. He said there’s need for strategic action plan which must bring tourism stakeholders together and create programmes that will benefit everybody.
Onung made FTAN’s new position known in his speech during the World Tourism Day celebrations which was hosted by Kebbi State government in collaboration with National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism (NIHOTOUR) in Argungu, Kebbi State. He said: We are determined to bring something new to the table and also mindful of the fact that the Ministry of Information and Culture and its 10 agencies are pivotal to FTAN dreams to ensure no industry player or viable cultural tourism projects are left behind. Obviously, Covid-19 pandemic alone did not cripple the nation’s economy but also the inability of the tourism sector to contribute a sizable percentage apart from its usual 2 per cent to the nation’s economy due to lack of private/public sectors partnership in the promotion and marketing of Nigeria as a preferred tourism destination in Africa among other challenges. It appears this year’s WTD theme, ‘Tourism for Inclusive Growth’ gingered the sectors to come together for the reviving of the tourism economy and revenue. It is expected that several travel curbs will be lifted. World Tourism Day 2021 is dedicated to the tourism industry’s unique ability to make sure that nobody is left behind as the world begins to open up and look into the future. Onung assured that the Federation under his watch would work with the federal government to ensure that industry operators and investors are not left behind in the agenda to reinvent the wheel of tourism business in Nigeria.
”We are determined to bring something new to the table and also mindful of the fact that the Ministry of Information and Culture and its 10 agencies are pivotal to FTAN dreams to ensure no industry player or viable cultural tourism projects are left behind.”
He also said government must help the tourism industry back to its feet and wondered why the palliatives promised the industry associations and players are yet to materialize. For him, government must through such intervention prove that it cares and also appreciates the critical job creating values of the cultural tourism industry.
”I must commend the resilience and doggedness of the private sector for the rebound of the sector after the COVID-19 regulations impacted negatively on its growth and also without help anywhere, with unforgettable lessons learnt, that time has come for us, government and the private sector, to work together and not leave anyone behind.” The FTAN President further offered insight on the significance of celebrating WTD 2021.
He praised Kebbi State government for it’s role in taking up the financial burden to give Nigeria a platform to celebrate the global festivity thereby showcasing the rich cultural and agro tourism economy of the state noted for its rice production.
He said the tourism industry has the capacity to sell the rice paddie fields of Kebbi to the world and also create tour jobs and other employment opportunities.
“Yes, we may have security challenges but it has been proven that if the government and the private sector operators joined hands together, there will be a positive change,” he explained.
Onung hailed Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture on his latest honour, Kakaki of kebbi, saying that he appreciated the Emir of Kebbi and state government for the investiture of Mohammed who doubles as tourism minister. The traditional title bestowed on the minister, he said, was well deserved for Mohammed who has done well.
”FTAN rejoices with our minister. He has done well and maybe after this outing he will put more energy towards getting the industry the palliatives the federal government promised us.
“We at FTAN are proud and are looking forward to working closely with the Information Ministry to get everyone far and wide to give Nigeria cultural tourism the mileage expected of its diversity,” he also said.
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