As nations across the world seek to earn foreign exchange through diverse cultural heritage, experts in the tourism sector have identified lack of favorable legal framework as the missing link to drive the needed change in the industry.
They expressed optimism that the sector is capable of stimulating a competitive business environment.
The National President, National Association of Nigeria Travel Agency (NANTA), Bankole Bernard, disclosed this at the 43rd Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the association, with the theme: “Developing Strategic Policies for the Sustainability and Growth of the Travel and Tourism Industry” held in Lagos recently.
He said it was worthy to note that a bill that was presented to the National Assembly had moved so fast to the point of consideration for a third reading by the lawmakers.
“In the last one year, the emphasis has been mainly on advocacy and enactment of our legislative bill (NANTA ACT) at the lower chamber of Assembly and we hope it is concluded within the shortest possible time,” he said.
However, Bankole commended the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) on the fight to reduce fake agencies in the business, adding that with the introduction of New Generation IATA Settlement System (NewGenISS), by the global body of travel agency, which gives flexibility in payment, has improved their efficiency.
According to him, “We have closely worked with the regulatory body NCAA to eliminate counterfeit travel agencies amongst our honourable members. This singular act has reduced the number of counterfeit travel agencies around but has not completely eliminated them.
“This new system is the replacement of the old BSP (Billing Settlement Plan) which operated in Nigeria for 10 years. We must say at this point that the New Gen ISS is a huge step in ensuring a simpler and faster way of doing a travel agency business in Nigeria,” he noted.
In a goodwill message, the Director-General, Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Folarin Coker, said tourism in Nigeria had only received lip service despite the huge potential it offers in the diversification drive of the economy.
He nation and lacks the legal framework to turn around the sector.
“The new law will allow everybody to operate their business as it will be easier to work, without the right law no right tax. It will create an enabling environment for ease of doing business”
On his part as the guest speaker, the Director-General, National Council for Arts and Culture and President World Craft Council, Africa Region, Olusegun Runsewe, calls for adequate marketing and promotion of the nation cultural products.
“The private sector needs to be assisted to grow through funding supports, loans and concessionary interest rate, this will greatly assist the critical stakeholders in the industry to expand and strengthen the scopes of their business”