NIHOTOUR to roll out sustainable tourism entrepreneurship programme across Nigeria

The management of the National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism (NIHOTOUR) Abuja has announced the commencement of an innovative training programme for economic empowerment of youths and women residents of tourist host communities across Nigeria. The project, according to Nura Sani Kangiwa, director general, NIHOTOUR, is titled Sustainable Tourism Entrepreneurship Programme (STEP) and it will be launched in Lagos on November 28, 2022.

The STEP is an innovative training and empowerment programme for tourism and hospitality small business start-ups and sustainable operations of small businesses in rural tourist host communities and major cities across Nigeria’s six-geopolitical zones where NIHOTOUR already has campuses and training centres. The programme is novel and designed to train, equip and mentor trainees on hands-on skills and entrepreneurial capabilities for successful operation of small businesses (start-ups) in the tourism industry value-chain such as cookery, pastry, confectionery, tour operation, tour guiding, and travel agency – flight ticketing and hotel reservations.

Moreover, the project aims at systematically growing Nigeria’s tourism economy at different tourist destinations, especially targeting the growth of income and savings of the local residents, increase in the employment opportunities and over time, the development of tourism sites and businesses. The STEP project is targeted at young girls and women, and vulnerable youths, physically challenged persons, internally displaced persons, and unemployed graduates of tertiary institutions, as well as, skilled youths with post primary school education in Nigeria. The training will be delivered free of charge to participants. Also, graduates of the programme will be given starter-packs to start their own businesses.

STEP will be a 3-month training project, involving intense ‘learning-by-doing’ curricula where trainees will learn tourism or hospitality product development, services operation and the nitty-gritty of setting-up their personal business at the expiration of their training in three months. Trainees would be taught business development proficiencies, such as, go-to market strategies, business incorporation, product packaging, brand positioning, online and off-line marketing, customer relationship management and prevailing global best practices, in the trainees’ preferred areas of specialization, with profitable niche markets in the industry.

Delivery of the STEP project will include students’ ‘study-to-work’ job placements and supervised mentoring systems, in-partnership with tourism and allied private-sector organisations to ensure that the graduands will have a short period of supervised apprenticeship at existing tourism or hospitality business outlets at different tourist destinations. The goal of the job placement and mentoring part of NIHOTOUR STEP programme is to provide the graduates with hands-on skills and real-life business management expertise to enable them successfully setup and manage their own businesses at the end of the three months training programme.

Read also: Lessons from Botswana’s progressive tourism policies

The three months will be broken into one month of class work and two months of apprenticeship and practical training and mentorship at private tourism and hospitality business outfits. NIHOTOUR’s training mandate and the mandate of the Hospitality and Tourism Sector Skills Council of Nigeria (HTSSCN) of which NIHOTOUR is the national coordinator are backed by the government. The Sector Skills Council was set up and empowered in 2013 by the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) as a private sector-driven personnel training system. Accordingly, the STEP project would be anchored on Nigeria’s National Skills Qualification (NSQ) framework, leading to the award of Level 3 certification, as stipulated in the framework.

The goal and set targets of STEP in Nigeria are in-line with the well-documented objectives of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) programmes, especially, related to the delivery of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET). More so, training and educational institutions, in the moulds of NIHOTOUR, in other parts of the United Nations’ member countries, have evidently implemented similar programmes like STEP and empowered graduands with profitable start-up Tourism businesses or employment in the industry, thereby lifting thousands of families out of poverty and deprivation.

NIHOTOUR is an apex organisation under the Ministry of Information & Culture, engaged in training, consultancy, research and publications in order to promote skills and entrepreneurship courses and programmes. Since inception in 1987, the institute has played a pivotal role in building an entrepreneurial ecosystem not only in Nigeria but also in other countries through international training and development programmes. Through various tailor-made entrepreneurship development programmes, the institute has been able to help a number of trainees in establishing their enterprises and become self-reliant.