• Saturday, April 20, 2024
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ATTWON call on President Tinubu for tourism restoration

On Nigeria’s current economic reforms

“Tourism contributes towards complete growth and development of a country. It boosts the revenue of the economy, creates thousands of jobs and develops the infrastructures of a country.”

The significant role that tourism plays, with regard to the holistic development of a country, came to the fore recently during the quarterly edition of the Association of Travel and Tourism Writers of Nigeria (ATTWON) Tourism Parliament.

The clarion call which was made at the historic Tourism Parliament with the theme: “Setting tourism agenda for the new dispensation in Nigeria” underscores the importance of members of the Nigerian society cross-pollinating ideas on the different aspects of our national life. It has become compelling at this time that the economy is faced with a myriad of challenges, all calling for pragmatic solutions.

To make the desired difference, stakeholders at the Tourism Parliament had to take an incisive look at the questions that the policymakers have to find answers to. For instance, what does tourism really mean to the economy? What is the current status quo and has it met the principles and policies for the establishment of the Ministry of Tourism? If not, what are the factors required to change the narrative? But to begin with, what does the new government need to do in this regard?

It is worthy of note that President Bola Tinubu, during his presidential inaugural speech at Eagle Square, Abuja, on May 29, 2023, vowed to deliver on his campaign promises by creating an enabling environment for local and foreign investors. Said he: “I have a message for our investors – local and foreign. Our government shall review all complaints on multiple taxations and various anti-investment inhibitions”.

In light of this solemn pledge, it is important to highlight the fact that the dream of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) cannot see the light of day, especially in the absence of a secure, safe environment driven by a robust tourism landscape. That underscores the contributions made by the stakeholders during the recent Tourism Parliament organized by ATTWON.

In his welcome address, the president, ATTWON, Mr. Ayo Omotoso stated, with emphasis that: “Tourism contributes towards complete growth and development of a country. Tourism boosts the revenue of the economy, creates thousands of jobs, develops the infrastructures of a country and the more reason the theme for this quarterly edition of ATTWON Tourism Parliament.”

He added: “This edition of Tourism Parliament is historic as we are having two distinguished former Director General of Nigerian Tourism Development Authority (NTDA), Mrs Omotayo Omotosho and Mrs Sally Mbanefo as speakers,” Omotoso said.

Collectively, the stakeholders agreed that the current Ministry of Information and Culture does not represent tourism fully and the need for a stand-alone ministry of tourism.

To have a firm grasp of what tourism really entails, the former Director General, Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Mrs Sally Mbanefo said that: “Tourism is life and everything we live as part of tourism in it via business tourism, education tourism, lifestyle, health, destination tourism to mention a few. That explains the reason why domestic tourism was my focus while in office”.

In his valid contribution, the Vice President (South West Zone), Institute for Tourism Practitioners of Nigeria (ITPAN), Otunba Ayo Olumoko, speaking at the forum charged the Tinubu-led government to bring back the Presidential Council on Tourism (PCT). This was set up during the era of President Olusegun Obasanjo for positive impacts and growth of the tourism sector.

In fact, so imperative is the call to re-invent the wheel of the tourism sub-sector of the national economy that the former Director General, Nigeria Tourism Development Authority, Mrs Omotayo Omotosho, MFR made this thought-provoking input. In her words, she posited that: “We need to have a national tourism master plan, the need to create a tourism policy, improve funding for the sector, enlist round pegs into round holes by allowing core tourism professionals handle tourism affairs”.

It was in full support of ATTWON’s Tourism Parliament and specifically the timely topic that she endorsed the association’s stakeholders’ meeting in charting a course for the new dispensation. She is also of the firm belief that the trajectory and body language of the Tinubu-led government shows that Tourism is very important as a major revenue earner and goal of domestic tourism and marketing.

Read also: Tinubu appoints Gbajabiamila Chief of Staff, Akume, SGF

On his part, the Country Representative – Nigeria, West Africa Tourism Organisation (WATO), Hassan Zakari stated that a critical agenda for the incoming government is the need for a legal framework constitutionally. He proposed that an advisory board between state and federal stakeholders midwife by NDTA give a framework.

He suggested that the framework would clearly state if the sector is on an exclusive list or a residual list. He also proposed the need to rejig the National Tourism Master plan with current trends though the plan is a fantastic and well-thought-out document that is yet to be implemented. This is one important idea that the new dispensation has to consider with all the seriousness it deserves.

Ambassador Roy Okhidievbie, Group CEO, August Eye Ltd who spoke critically on tourism from a security perspective suggested a Tourism Police within the Nigerian Police Force while the CEO, That Good Media, Mrs Toyosi Etim-Effiong spoke on the different dynamics of Nollywood in tourism. She hyped the need for scriptwriters, especially in Nollywood to promote and project domestic tourism, sites, travel hospitality, art and culture at the script level.

On his part, Dr Alex Nwuba, with a proud pedigree in the tourism industry agreed that the different agendas stated by the major stakeholders are vital in turning the sector around but that the need for a legal framework for the sector is a major agenda for collective direction and development of the sector.

He is worth listening to because he is the President of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and also the Special Assistant to the FTAN President and also Special Adviser on tourism to Sierra Leone and Liberia.

It was good enough that the Tourism Parliament had in attendance notable guests in attendance, including the Zonal Coordinator (South West), Nigerian Tourism Development Authority, Mr Rotimi Aiyetan; President, Asian-African Chamber of Commerce and Industries Nigeria Chapter (AACCI), Mr Anrinle Ahmed Adekunle, Head of Tourism Unit, Mushin Local Government, Mrs Adedamola Ayomiku Owolabi representing the Executive Chairman, Mushin Local Government, Hon. Emmanuel Bamigboye; Chairman, Crownworth Consulting, Mr Charles Ukomadu; former Controller of Human Resources, Lagos Airport Hotel and General Manager, Ikeja Golf Club, Mr Lawrence Omidiora.

Beyond honouring the Executive Chairman, Mushin Local Government, Hon. Emmanuel Bamigboye was honoured with the “Tourism Excellence Award” for supporting community-based tourism development, specifically in Mushin Local Government the inputs made by the stakeholders.

One hopes and fervently so, that an all-encompassing look will be taken by the Tinubu-led administration to key into the veritable ideas as proffered by the professionals. That will certainly act as a catalyst to actualising his dream of a revitalised national economy.