FTAN Holds 2021 Elections, As Onung Promises to Reposition Nigeria Tourism
By JUSTINA OKPANKU
The CEO of Remlords Tours & Car Hire Services and Acting President, the Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN), Mr. Nkereuwem Onung has said he will reposition the tourism industry in the country, if he is elected president of FTAN which is the organised private sector tourism body. The FTAN, the umbrella association for hotels, travel agents, tour operators and other tourism-reliant organisations in the country, will be holding its 2021annual general meeting in Abuja, the nation’s capital this weekend, from July 7 to July 9). The AGM which will be taking place at Rockview Hotel, Royale is expected to draw the attention of the representatives of the various segments of the tourism industry as well as allied sectors of the economy. The stakeholders and members of the Federation will deliberate on the affairs of FTAN, periscope and project a new path for Nigeria tourism development, promotion and marketing. Onung who is keen in encouraging tourism operators to focus on domestic tourism, outlined his 7-point agenda aimed at repositioning the body and fastracking the growth and development of tourism in the country.
He said the time has come to take tourism to national prominence, stressing that there’s need to raise that consciousness so that at the end tourism gets better in Nigeria.
He believed that the industry has lost out on a whole lot of issues about tourism in terms of engagements.
Onung said among other things that he is seeking for prosperity for the industry and for the players that have given their lives to it.
“I believe that we have lost out on a whole lot of issues about tourism in terms of engagements because the engagements were inappropriate, the engagements did not take us anywhere, we believed that whatever has been the gains of the past 12 years, we will begin to consolidate it and raise tourism and FTAN to the national prominence”.
He pointed out that one of the reasons the tourism ministry was lost was because there wasn’t enough data to measure the contribution of tourism to the country’s GDP.
He promised that when elected, he will work on improving data capturing so that the statistics will reflect the relevance of tourism in Nigeria.
He said: “I believe that we can robustly work towards that so that at the end everybody will understand what tourism contributes to our GDP, so that at the end, we begin to see how we can change the narratives and begin to work on our governments to begin to see us in that light that we are in the industry”.
He lamented that some officials have turned FTAN administrative structures like that of the vice presidents to individuals who go around doing things that are not constitutional by creating state excos of secretary and chairman, which are illegal structures that supposed not to be.
He promised to strengthen and unify member associations of FTAN and raise the visibility of the body to begin to engage appropriate institutions together.
He said: “When this is done, I believe that we will gradually move to a point everybody will give us our rightful place, we will also begin to contribute properly to the economic spheres in terms of our GDP. It is also believed that if we articulate and create proper consensus in terms of where we are going, then we have the same narratives as we go forward, there is no how people wouldn’t take us serious. We can articulate and agree on action points like we are going to do this in the next six months, we are going to do that in the next 12months so that the consciousness will be raised, so that at the end of It all, we would have a better tourism industry”.
Onung also stressed on the need for funding for the industry.
“The other aspect of it is funding,we have a lot of things going on at different levels, we have people at different levels engaging in tourism, pocketing money without analysing the effect of the activities to National tourism. What this means is that we have people that have engaged in national tourism and cover some some grounds on what would have been a national association perspective. Are there grants in the industry, yes, but there are people who are condoning such grants because of their approach and I believe that the national associations and FTAN that is well articulated will conduct itself in such a way that we use statistics to access some of those funds”.
“Some of us understand what happened to Covid- 19 palliatives, why is that tourism that suffered the most in the industry has not been able to attract any kind of palliative.
We always say that If NANTA got any palliative, it wasn’t because of NANTA activism, but because of what happened in aviation. We don’t believe that we need to behave like trade unions, it has to be negotiations, it has to be people working together harnessing what we need to do to better the industry. I don’t how we engaged in the past, I wasn’t involved, but the president was involved. But we have heard much in that direction am sure most of us were not also engaged. I believed that if there is proper articulation and the media bought into it, we would have been able to make more inroads towards getting funding for the industry and that brings me to the aspect of our relationships with governments and international associations.
“We don’t intend to be at loggerheads with the institutions of tourism, we believe that there are avenues that we can engage them professionally for them to give account of their stewardship to Nigerians, there are things that can be done, there are foras that be created that everyone who runs an agency of tourism gives account of what they have done and not to wait for four years to be over to begin to tell us what they have done and what they haven’t done.