The new Nigerian minister of tourism, culture, and national orientation, Abubakar Sadiq Mohammed, has promised a good working relationship with the Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN), the umbrella body for the tourism private sector in the country.
The minister made the promise recently in his office in Abuja while receiving the federation members who paid him a courtesy visit.
Receiving the FTAN delegation led by its president, Samuel Alabi, the minister thanked them for deeming it fit to pay him an early visit, saying that the courtesy call was timely and most appropriate, noting that government needs a partner to work with if the tourism industry is to be properly harnessed.
The visit, according to Alabi, was to prove to the ministry and its agencies that the tourism private sector is willing to parley with government in the development, marketing, and promotion of the travel and tourism industry in Nigeria.
Briefing the minister of FTAN’s mandate for the travel and tourism industry and requests, Alabi listed among others, the willingness of FTAN to continue to serve as the apex body that will provide leadership, direction, and control for the travel and tourism private sector; to interact with government on behalf of the private sector; and represent the private sector’s interest in the sector with the view to harnessing the abundant tourism potentials in the country. The federation also urged the minister to revive the Presidential Committee on Tourism (PCT), established by the Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration.
Other requests listed by FTAN are to liaise with government and its agencies in order to guarantee the timely, effective, and possible uniformity in the development of tourism across the country and to effect and implement the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) code of conduct and ethics, which will enhance the credibility of the sector and encourage its acceptability. FTAN also wants the ministry to collaborate in promoting tourism across the country through workshops, seminars, and a regular exchange of ideals between the private and public sectors, as well as aiding research, education, and information technology through a bi-lateral arrangement between FTAN and its similar local and international organizations.
The umbrella body for the tourism private sector further requested that the federation be included or represented on the boards of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) and that of the National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism Study (NIHOTOUR), two tourism parastatals out of the eight parastatals under the ministry and the full implementation of the Tourism Master Plan, and as well as Nigeria’s participation at the 35th Edition of Africa Travel Association (ATA) Congress in the Gambia later in the month and the possibility of hosting it next year.
Responding to the requests, the minister said the PCT has been introduced to him and that the ministry is already thinking and working on how to bring it back.
On the Tourism Master Plan, the minister said that the ministry is once again seeking the technical expertise and inputsfrom the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), because of some set backs it suffered. He noted that as soon as word comes from the UNWTO, the ministry will move on with the implementation.
Also speaking on the preservation of monuments and heritage throughout the country, the minister said efforts will be made to ensure monuments are preserved wherever they are located across the country. He challenged FTAN to sensitize the public on the need to preserve them for generations yet unborn and for the sake of the tourism industry.
Addressing the issue of fake tourism practitioners which, to many in the industry is an unnecessary alarm that the NTDC has been raising over time, the minister said legislation is underway to check the activities of such few that might be cashing in on the popularity of tourism. The minister, as well, stressed the need for the involvement of FTAN in checking the sharp practice, which, according to him, is the only way such people and companies can be weeded out of the sector.
He, however, called on FTAN to intensify efforts in its membership drive, as it is a way the sector can be properly monitored and the bad eggs fished out and punished accordingly.
Commenting on the conflicts between some federal agencies and some states on issues of taxes, registration, and grading of hotels and its related establishments, Mohammed assured on making necessary recommendations to the acting president who he noted will handle the issue with states that are involved at the appropriate fora.
The minister also talked of the need for FTAN to create a funding purse that it would contribute to, as well as, looking into the circumstances leading to the establishment of the NTDC and NIHOTOUR. He warned the tourism private sector body on the need to restrain from giving project endorsement to people that are not well known to it.
The highlight of the courtesy call that was no doubt, a new beginning, was the brief appearance of the Minister of Women Affairs, Josephine Aninih, who is a member of FTAN Board of Trustees.
It was recalled that the idea of establishing FTAN was initiated in 1995 but was formally registered in March 1997 and officially inaugurated on September 30, 1997 by the then Federal Ministry of Commerce and Tourism.