World Tourism Day: Stakeholders urge FG to restore Ministry of Tourism

World Tourism Day: Stakeholders urge FG to restore Ministry of Tourism

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As the world celebrates World Tourism Day today, Nigeria Association of Tour Operators, NATOP hosted stakeholder in the industry including South Africa Tourism and the Calabar Carnival team in Lagos.
The event was kick started by Mr Jemi Alade, a tourism pioneer in Nigeria as he welcomed all to the programme.
The President of NATOP, Nkereuwem Onung while welcoming all the stakeholders to this year event with the theme- “Tourism for all”, lamented that, “we celebrate this year’s event with mixed feelings”.
Speaking further, he said, “With joy on one side for the resilience of Nigerians and stakeholders who have had to forge ahead despite very difficult operating terrain.
“Sad, because our government have continued to trivialized the sector that is capable of contributing so much to GDP especially now that our country is going through difficult times.
He commended the effort of past government that realizes the importance of the sector, and according to him, “we celebrate the effort of past government who gave us Federal Ministry of Tourism which provided better platform for stakeholders to operate. We attended Trade expos regularly to market Nigeria, tourism stakeholders had a sense of belonging. We had our problems but there was room for improvement. In 2002, President Obasanjo made a nationwide broadcast on world tourism day”
He declared that, “It was on this note that we reiterate the need for the government of President Buhari to consider restoring our Ministry of Tourism. This will promote and enhance activities within the value chain.
“We are also saying that in restoring our Ministry, link the national parks to it as it are the case in most countries.
Onung therefore advised the Federal government to be more committed to the project of Destination Nigeria. He said, “On domestic tourism, we need to consistently take the right steps towards achieving “Destination Nigeria”. It begins with developing the Nigerian Dream, being proud of our country and heritage and promoting activities and policies that give every Nigerian a sense of belonging. That is where we commend the current campaign of “Change Begins With Me”.
He commended the work done by the promoter of Akwaaba Travels, Ikechi Uko who embarked on Naija Seven Wonders. He stressed that Naija Seven Wonders was an exposition of how viable the domestic tourism can be. He therefore urged the federal government “to look at the work done by Naija Seven Wonders, revise and articulate a workable Master plan, develop tourism infrastructure and assets.
The President of NATOP commended the Carnival Calabar team led by the Commission Chairman, Mr Gab Onah who was at the event to seal the marketing partnership deal between the Commission and the Tour Operators in Nigeria for making the Calabar Carnival the best Street Carnival in Africa.
“On the African scene, we commend South Africa Tourism who have pioneered and promote the tourism of Africa for Africans and the private sector engine, the Team Africa, who are about to launch the search for 21 wonders of Africa”, he added.
Mr Ikechi Uko, Promoter of Akwaaba Travels, who anchored the programme extols the virtue of Chief Mike Amachree who also was a surviving founder of the tourism sector in Nigeria. He also regales the audience with the story of tourism in Nigeria from inception. He spoke glowing of the past and what those that were the founding fathers looked up to when the sector was at infancy.
He said, “It is the belief of the founding fathers that tourism sector will eventually become the mainstay of the economy, and my own belief that it could be the bailout of this recession we are facing, if and only if the government can give the necessary impetus to do so. Tourism as a sector if taken seriously can be a catalyst to development and growth of any country.”
Lehlohonolo Pitso, South African Tourism,Regional Manager for West Africa applauded the efforts of NATOP and other stakeholders in the promotion of tourism pan-Africa. He enjoined NATOP not to relent in their efforts at placing tourism in Nigeria where it rightly belong.

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