The Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN) has once again charged President Muhammadu Buhari to delineate, prioritize and fund a new Federal Ministry of Tourism in Nigeria.
The President of FTAN, Alhaji Saleh Rabo, made this call in Abuja yesterday, Tuesday March 19th 2019, when Mrs. Opakiriti Josephine Nzobiwu, the new Director of Domestic Tourism at the Ministry of Information and Culture, went on a familiarization visit to the headquarters of FTAN in Asokoro Abuja.
The new Director of Domestic Tourism has just been redeployed from the Federal Ministry of Transport in Abuja. On her maiden meeting with FTAN Council members at their Secretariat, Mrs. Opakiriti Josephine Nzobiwu, assured the Federation of her commitment to involve the organized tourism private sector in the scheduled programs and events of her department at the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture.
The Domestic Tourism Director also assured FTAN members that she would periodically seek inputs of tourism business operators in advising the Minister over future domestic tourism programs and events. Mrs. Nzobiwu said her personal travels to some international tourist destinations revealed that Nigeria’s tourism economy can be sustainably developed if the private sector is incentivised to invest in the industry.
Earlier, in his welcome remark, FTAN President lamented that the current nomenclature of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture without Tourism, is a disservice to the sector and sad reflection of the non-committal policy of the federal government towards tourism business development in Nigeria. Alhaji Rabo reiterated that the current ministry of Information and Culture is too big for one Minister to supervise. He insisted that the Minister is too preoccupied with the enormity of managing matters relating to Information, and therefore has no time for Tourism sector policy promotion.
Some FTAN Council members present at the meeting echoed the FTAN President’s lamentation and further posited that, in the light of the impending cabinet reshuffle by President Buhari, following his recent re-election for a second term, a substantive Minister of Tourism should be appointed. They explained that it is better to have a junior a Minister of State for Tourism than to have none. FTAN members therefore called for a delineation akin to the current Ministry of Aviation, which has a Minister of State.
FTAN council members announced that they are resolved to engage the Office of the President in this matter. They pointed out that since the beginning of the APC government at the federal level, the tourism sector had not received any significant business friendly palliative, not even in the much touted Ease of Doing Business policy.
It may be recalled that FTAN and other stakeholders have since 2015, when Tourism was downgraded in the current structure of the Ministry of Information and Culture, called for the appointment of a dedicated Permanent Secretary to superintend over the affairs of tourism in the federal civil service. Business owners and operators in Nigeria’s tourism industry believe that current Information and Culture Ministry is best managed by, at least, two concurrent Permanent Secretaries, since the Minister will be too busy because of the sheer size of his portfolios.
The new Director of Domestic Tourism was accompanied on her familiarization visit to FTAN Secretariat by Mrs. Narayi, the Deputy Director of Domestic Tourism, and one other senior official of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture.