L-R Minister of Tourism Culture And National Orientation, High Chief Edem Duke; FTAN President, Chief Samuel Alabi; and Executiive Director NTDC, Ms. Sally Mbanefo, at the Nigeria Tourism Investors Forum and Exhibitions in Abuja ... Last week
During the week, the Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria took an important step in the quest to promote Nigeria as a viable tourist destination by successfully convening its first ever Nigeria Tourism Investors Forum and Exhibitions. For many in Nigerian tourism industry circles, the two-day event held at the Ladi Kwali Hall of the Abuja Sheraton was way overdue. Apparently, it was at least five years late.
Better late than never seemed to be the motto as the Samuel Alabi-led FTAN managed to draw industry bigwigs led by the minister of tourism, culture and national orientation, High Chief Edem Duke, as well as the FCT minister, Alhaji Bala Mohammed.
The new boss of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation, Sally Mbanefo, was another notable presence, as was the president of FTAN, Chief Samuel Alabi.
The event was convened to promote local tourism destinations and strengthen the relationship between tourism investors and service providers among other objectives. Artwork from different parts of the country were exhibited and there was also a cultural display to entertain guest.
Speakers included the DG for the National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism, Ahlaji Munzali Dantata who spoke on regulatory framework for the hospitality industry; the Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, Kabir Mohammed Mashi who spoke on taxation as a tool for tourism development ; and very significantly Duke, whose speech on the place of tourism in the economic development of Nigeria was – in what might be considered a symbolic move of harmony in the ministry – read by the new NTDC Executive Director, Mbanefo.
According to Duke, “Tourism has been identified (by the Federal Government)as one of the key segments of the economy that needs to be harnessed and developed if the plan of making Nigeria rank among the top 20 countries in the world by the year 2020 is to be achieved.”
While admitting that the incidence of domestic leisure travel may be low, the sheer size of Nigeria’s population means that there is a significant contribution to the demand for tourism services from domestic travel activities, he believes.
He used the forum to seek cooperation from various stakeholders in the industry. “To make Nigeria one of the desired tourist destinations in Africa, tourism development should not be left to the Federal Government alone.
Rather, a synergy between the states, the local governments, local communities and stakeholders should be built to move the sector forward.”
He encouraged private sector investment in the country’s tourism industry and explained “government has introduced such incentives as tax holidays, tax rebates and soft loans with long periods of grace to potential investors in tourism.”
There were also a few revealing statistics in his speech.
The revenue that is generated from travel within the country by employees and staff of federal government departments and agencies generates a demand for an estimated 68 million dollars while spending by international tourists has a direct impact of about 280 million dollars on the Nigerian economy.
Duke further reiterated what Nigeria’s tourism policy which was produced in 1990 looks to achieve.
“The basic objective is to make Nigeria the ultimate tourism destination in Africa,” he revealed.
“The main thrust of government policy on tourism is to generate foreign exchange, encourage even development, promote tourism based rural enterprises, generate employment and accelerate rural urban integration and cultural exchange.”