By Renn Offor
‘‘It is our duty to package brand Nigeria as a Destination. The sweetest part of tourism is that the human part of tourism is 90 per cent. And we need to believe in the product Nigeria; change our mindset and get interested in packaging and marketing the brand Nigeria’.
These were the assertions with which Mrs. Chika Balogun, Director General, National institute for Hospitality and Tourism (NIHOTOUR), while declaring open a – day training workshop organised by her institute for travel journalists and security agents, recently held on Lagos.
‘Tourism’, the DG went on, ‘is an important aspect of the diversification agenda of the Federal Government of Nigeria’.
With these words and more Mrs. Chika Balogun charged travel journalists and security agents in Nigeria to adopt a positive disposition on the promotion of Nigeria so as to attract the right attention to the country in its quest to diversifying its economy as a way of overcoming the present recession.
The theme of the training was ‘Global tourism ethics and ethics on brand Nigeria,’ and it was attended by security officers from Nigeria Immigration Service, Federal Road Safety Corp (FRSC) and Nigerian Civil Defense and Security Corps and tourism journalists.
Dwelling on the potential of tourism to the Nigerian economy, Chika explained that, ‘Tourism yields more than oil’, asserting that ‘tourism in Nigeria has a lot of assets’.
According to her, ‘If the task of making Nigeria one of the top 20 destinations in the world is to be achieved then Nigeria has to be promoted in positive light and branded accurately in line with global tourism ethics’; and that ‘Travel journalists and security agents have a great role to play in this regard’.
Therefore, she said that, “There is the need to equip journalists and security agents on the appropriate ethics that would help in the branding of the country’, adding that, ‘NIHOTOUR has decided to bring together both the journalists and security agents based on our collective resolve to promote Nigeria for a better day ahead.”
Mrs. Balogun then appealed to the travel journalists to make the necessary effort to promote Nigeria tourism in positive light while she called on the security agents to cooperate with tourism operators in protecting the country and ensuring that the right controls and measures are put in place to secure the country.
While looking at the positive impact tourism can have in the society, Mrs. Chika explained further, saying, ‘That we can use tourism as a vehicle to prosper Nigeria economically and morally’, even as she traced the comparative impact of tourism to other countries like ‘USA where tourism is the number contributor to their GDP especially through domestic tourism’.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who was the special guest of honour, was represented by the Director of Domestic Tourism and Control in the ministry, Mrs. Ada Okoli.
The event had two technical sessions with one session devoted to the training of the security agents and the other to the travel journalists with experts on security, brand and destination building, tourism ethics and other related topics taking them through the rudiments of the topics.
Certificate of attendance were given to the participants with Mrs. Balogun charging them to put in good use the various ethics, skills and knowledge impacted on them even as she disclosed that NIHOTOUR would on a regular basis hold such training sessions for the different segments of the society in accordance with its mandate.