The Ministry of Information and Culture, Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation and other tourism and hospitality operators have roundly rejected theÂ Tourism and Hospitality Institute Bill sponsored by the National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism (NIHOTOUR).
According to the minister, the Bill, which is at public hearing, is overwhelming and is likely to overshadow other parastatals by bringing about a lot of agitations. â€œThe bill needs to be revisited and restrict NIHOTOUR to a tourism and training institute as obtainable in other climes,â€ he said.
Reacting, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Culture and Tourism, Sen. Mathew Urhoghide explained that the Bill is not meant to override any parastatal, but to put them in their proper perspectives and define their roles.
He therefore asked the minister to address specific sections of the Bill and not to condemn it entirely. â€œWe are not against the Bill, we are only asking for amendment of some sections in the Bill which create conflict and clash of operations, especially on the legal and structural framework of the agency so as to make way for improved operation,â€ he pointed out. In his own presentation, the Director General of the NTDG, Folorunso Coker said the Bill encroaches on Sections 4, 14, and 15 of the Act establishing the corporation.
He said: â€œThe bill is giving NIHOTOUR the position of both trainer and regulator of everything relating to tourism, thereby disregarding the legality of other parastatals.â€ He, therefore, prayed that the Bill be sent back for proper consideration and alignment, where focus should be placed more on: collaboration with the National Universities Commission and Colleges on formulation of tourism curricula for educational consumption, proper collaboration with the private sector and sensitisation and promotion of tourism training across board.
National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism (NIHOTOUR) was established in 1987 through a tripartite agreement between the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), International Labor Organisation (ILO), and the federal government, and it saw the commencement of training activities in 1988. In the beginning, though, when there was critical man-power shortage, the institute was made a department and the training wing of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation before it gained autonomy in 1998.
Similarly, it could be recalled that major tourism groupings including The National Association of Nigerian Travel Agents NANTA, the Nigerian Association for Tour Operators NATOP, The Association of Tourism Practitioners of Nigeria, ATPN, and many other associations are all lined up to oppose the Bill.
Association of Travel and Tourism Writers of Nigeria, ATTWON had this to say about the Bill, â€œNIHOTOUR was established as an academic institution, not a regulator of hospitality outlets in the industry. As an academic body, it has failed to deliver on its set objectives. Instead of adding value to the industry, NIHOTOUR has become a liability as we could not really point out their impact in the industry. It is sad that a government agency can flagrantly disobey the highest court in the land and its judgement.â€