Home » World Tourism Day: Restore Ministry of Tourism, PCT, NATOP tells Nigerian Govt.

World Tourism Day: Restore Ministry of Tourism, PCT, NATOP tells Nigerian Govt.

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By Renn Offor
The Nigerian Association of Tour Operators (NATOP), has called on President Mohammad Buhari led government of Nigeria to restore the Ministry of Tourism and the Presidential Committee on Tourism (PCT) as practical steps towards harnessing great financial benefits in that sector as he seeks to restore the country to the path of glory.

‘Tourism is more than just selling Tickets and building Hotels’, says Nkereuwem Onung, National President of NATOP in his message as the Association gears to mark this year’s World Tourism Day’s celebrating.

‘A ministry of Tourism that recognises the whole gamut of the Tourism Value chain is needed’, he posited.

Recall that NATOP has been on the forefront of crusading, harping on imperative issues very critical to uplifting and sustaining a viable and profitable tourism agenda and to creating the environment for the sector to thrive.

Earlier in the year, after its AGM, NATOP released a comprehensive list of it expectations from the Federal Government in order to institute a viable and profitable tourism sector. The recommendations then were that the government should streamline visa procedure for tourists to encourage in-bound visitors; that Immigration Service eVisa system is not visitor friendly and does not work most times.

NATOP also called on the government to establish a national carrier as very necessary for Nigeria to develop tourism; the need to develop and promote Nigerian tourism products and to market Destination Nigeria, among others.

Mr. Onung, now, is going further and insisting that the government needs to step up its effort in making the tourism sector viable again, saying that ‘Nigeria need(s) to create pull factors which are to be facilitated by infrastructural capabilities and developed to offer experiences to visitors.’

The NATOP president clearly called on the Federal Government to bring back a standalone Ministry of Tourism that will give full scale attention to matters of Tourism to aid in the diversification drive of the government.

To counterfort his position, Mr. Nkereuwem explained that ‘All successful countries in Africa have ministries of Tourism and that is why they are doing very well and Nigeria should copy Countries like Kenya, South Africa, Gambia, Zimbabwe and Ghana.

The NATOP Boss also noted in his message that, ‘The absence of a full-fledged Ministry has left Tourism adrift. The absence of a ministry has left stakeholders speculating on matters of Tourism.

‘Usually, the World Tourism Day is a day celebrated by the Ministry in Collaboration with other agencies every year.

‘The day September 27 was mooted by a Nigerian Ignatius Atigbi for which the UNWTO honored him posthumously with an Award in 2009’.

Shedding some light into challenges confronting tourism and its stakeholders in the country, he that there is a vacuum of communication gap existing between them and the government: ‘This year, the day and it’s celebration has not been well communicated to Tourism Stakeholders for appropriate action and participation.

NATOP still reiterated its support to the call for a National Carrier which could be a veritable instrument for economic growth and also enhance Tourism Development.

After he stated that tourism is more than just selling tickets and building Hotels and the need for a ministry that recognizes the whole gamut of the Tourism Value chain is needed he revealed that nations need to create pull factors which are to be facilitated by infrastructural capabilities and developed to offer experiences to visitors, that Nigeria must follow that path.

‘It is important to note also that Tourism Dollars are shared between Transport, accommodation, Transfers, Tourism assets etc but coordinated by Tour Operators to create the needed experience’, Onung intoned, stressing that ‘because Tour Operators are the Fulcrum of the Tourism Landscape they are the main losers When the Business is ignored’
NATOP also called on Government to ‘link the National parks to the Tourism sector as National Parks in South Africa earns more money per acres than Agriculture and there is no reason why this shouldn’t be done in Nigeria. In other countries in Africa, Tourism works closely with the National Parks.

‘This is why we are in support of re-establishing the PCT (Presidential Council on Tourism) to be chaired by the President where different stakeholder like Immigration, Transport, Aviation, Housing, Environment etc and relevant state governments come together to discuss way forward and create policies that enhances both in-bound and out-bound Tourism’, the Operators body maintained, the NATOP President said.

Recall also that the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed revealed in early August that the Ministry that “The UNWTO has also indicated interest in helping us to review the tourism master plan, which has been sitting on the shelf for a number of years and may need retouching in certain areas, in addition to agreeing to even participate in the first meeting of the revived Presidential Council on Tourism (PCT)’.

Though several travel experts from different quarters faulted the minister’s effort in reuniting to involve UNWTO reviewing the country’s tourism masterplan, saying it was UNTWO’s input to the plan that led to its failure as the world tourism body did not put into consideration the peculiarities of the various geopolitical regions in the plan.
Lai Mohammed then confirmed that the PCT was already on the pipeline to be resuscitated: “By the way, let me use this opportunity to announce that a memo on the resuscitation of the tourism master plan has been dispatched to the office of Mr. President.

‘Realizing that the PCT cannot meet as regularly as would have been desirable, the UNWTO has agreed to help us in constituting a technical body just below the level of the PCT, to ensure a more robust push for tourism development.”

And months after that, Nigerians and the tourism sector still awaits the fulfilement of that promise.

The assertion of NATOP therefore comes at a no better time than now as the whole world prepares and celebrates the World Tourism Day.

Nkereuwem went on to explain that, ‘There is also the place of cultural Tourism which is one of the fastest growing Tourism market. In recent Times, destinations measure the impact of culture on Tourism by using the two as major drivers of destination’s attractiveness and competitiveness.

‘It is our opinion therefore that, Federal Government should restore the Tourism Ministry, re-establish the PCT with relevant sub-sectors like Travel Agents, Hoteliers and Tour Operators as members. Federal Government should also begin to market the “destination Nigeria”, which is one of the most viable on the Africa Continent with a view of attracting tourists’, Mr. Nkereuwem concluded.

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