Africa: NATOP to sustain tourism advocacy at 2017 AGM in Nigeria

NATOP to sustain tourism advocacy at 2017 AGM in Nigeria

By Renn Offor

Nigeria Association of Tour Operators is gearing to focus this year’s AGM towards sustaining its advocacy and agenda setting for the Nigerian tourism sector and the development of tourism in general.

This is coming on the heels of the huge success that the association recorded in the last one year following its last AGM which held on Calabar, Cross River State in February 2016.

The National President of NATOP, Mr. Nkereuwem Onung revealed this during the association’s meeting and parley with journalists which culminated with a courtesy visit from the CEO of South Africa Tourism (SAT), Mr. Sisa Ntshona who was on a working visit to SAT West Africa office in Nigeria, and deemed the visit necessary to further strengthen the already existing partnership between SAT and NATOP. Mr. Ntshona seized the opportunity to reveal that South Africa is interested in seeking further opportunities to deepen its relationship with Nigeria towards mutual tourism growth.

NATOP President explained that the association is very likely to tow a path towards sustaining it advocacy for the tourism sector, as traced that since the last AGM which held on Calabar, the whole agenda that was contained the communiqué which was released after the AGM has been the focal points of discussion in the industry and among experts and stakeholders. Mr. Nkereuwem was represented by Mr. Ikechi Uko, organizer, African Travel Market.

NATOP used the opportunity to reveal that the association has concluded plans to ensure that it hosts its AGM as an annual event, explaining that, ‘Plans are already in motion for the 2017 Annual General Meeting, AGM slated for the first quarter of the year in a yet to be determined venue.

“When the arrangements for the event are fine-tuned, NATOP will release the details which will include the time, venue for the AGM and other plans. But it will take place in the first quarter of the year, he said”.

Recall that during last year’s NATOP AGM, several issues bedeviling the tourism sector were raised which translated into major talking points which stakeholders and experts focused on.

NATOP challenged the scrapping of the ministry of tourism by the current administration and termed it ‘a reflection that the ministry has lost its impact and meaningful contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Nigeria’, as it maintained that, ‘it seems that tourism is not a priority on the agenda of the present administration’.

NATOP also advocated the need for creative regulation and rebranding of the country’s cultural institutions to have appeal to attract tourists from all over the world, saying, ‘We also believe that our cultural institutions and events can be regulated and rebranded to make them attractive for local and int’l consumption.

At the end of the AGM last year, NATOP released a communiqué and among the issues contained in it are the visa regime that would encourages tourist/visitors to Nigeria; need for a national carrier that is partially privatized and fully commercialized with a mandate for National development; need to develop the country’s tourist sites in collaboration with the state or local community; Accurate and reliable statistics for planning and development, and the need to know the contribution of tourism to GDP (TSA).

The need to strengthen the country’s institutions and redefine their mandate (Supreme Court judgement July 19, 2013 where states can regulate their tourism activities independent of national government as it insisted that this renders the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation, NTDC impotent without any clear mandate.

Regulating and re-branding the country’s cultural institutions and events to make them attractive for local and international consumption.

The need to approach Nigerian tourism from a perspective of a family expecting an August visitor or a village expecting their prominent ruler and in this case, such family will think about transportation, where his visitor will sleep, particularly what he will eat and most importantly, he should have memorable experiences.

That the country has done well as a business destination, but will do better promoting leisure.

Commended Cross River and Lagos states for doing so much to promote tourism in Nigeria and to encourage other states to follow suit.

The belief that the conference will generate meaningful discussion that will galvanise tourism institution and government to rethink their approach and drive tourism as an alternative to the faltering and failing oil price, thereby arresting the downward trend of the economy.

Almost all the issues contained in that communiqué have in one form or the other received the attention and reaction from the Ministry for information and Culture over the last year.
It therefore based on the above that the association is raising the stakes to further its advocacy responsibility during this year’s AGM towards driving growth in the tourism sector.

During his speech, CEO of South Africa Tourism (SAT), Mr. Sisa Ntshona expressed the interest of the South Africa as a Country in helping the development and marketing of Nigeria’s tourism.

This he revealed during a courtesy visit to NATOP’s office in Lagos as part of his official visit to SAT’s west African office in Nigeria. He was led Mr. Hloni Pitso and Evelyn Mahlaba.
He said that SAT continues to seek ways to further deepen the relationship between South Africa and Nigeria.

Responding, on the behalf of NATOP’s President, Mr. Ikechi Uko, went explained that ‘If countries like Morocco which is advanced in several aspects of their national life is trying to copy the South African tourism development model, then, there is nothing wrong if Nigeria considered that proposal. Morroco is trying to get more African visitors something South Africa has done very well”

NATOP further revealed that in the coming days it would be presenting 5 tourism products to SAT as an effort for the two countries to repeat the benefits both inbound and outbound tourism between the countries among which are Carnival Calabar, Akwaaba African Travel Market, Osun Osogbo, Lagos Street Party, Argungu or Durbar in the North.

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