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    FG commits to partnering FTAN, others towards ‘making Nigeria tourism work’

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    Federal Government has recommitted to enabling private enterprise participation in growing the tourism sector of the country, just as it also commended the efforts made by the Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN) towards that field of the country’s economy.
    FTAN President, Mr Nkereuwem Onung with the Minister of Tourism, Ms Lola Ade-John, Thursday, in Abuja during a courtesy visit by the private sector tourism operators’ group

    FTAN is the umbrella body of private sector operators in the tourism industry of Nigeria.

    Minister of the newly established Ministry of Tourism, Ms Lola Ade-John, disclosed this when she met with a delegation of FTAN top executives led by its President, Mr Nkereuwem Onung, accompanied by the Directors General of the two agencies in the ministry; the National Institute of Hospitality and Tourism (NIHOTOUR), Alhaji Nura Kangiwa, as well as, his counterpart at the Nigerian Tourism Development Authority (NTDA), Mr Folarin Coker.

    The minister used the meeting to restate her task of making the tourism industry viable and attractive to private investors, which she said tops the list of focus she has been tasked with by President Bola Tinubu.

    According to the minister, ‘tourism is set to take the number one space in revenue generation in the country,’ which she stressed can only be achieved through effective collaborations and result-oriented partnerships with private sector business and think-tank groups like FTAN.

    Earlier, while proposing key areas of focus for the minister, FTAN President, Mr Onung disclosed that suggestions presented to the Federal Government through her, for consideration are intended to assist the Tourism ministry in achieving its objective of repositioning the Nigerian tourism industry for growth and development, as a great contributor to the national economy.

    FTAN in its suggestions urged the Federal Government to revisit stalled programmes initiated in the sector, including the National Tourism Masterplan; hosting of the National Council on Tourism, state’s tourism masterplan, as well as, the Tourism Satellite Account (TSA), all of which had been abandoned by previous administrations for non-justifiable reasons despite the huge potential they portend for growing the sector of the economy.

    It would be recalled that since the conclusion of the 61st Meeting United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Commission for Africa (CAF) and Technical Seminar for Tourism Statistics hosted by Nigeria in Abuja, in June 2018, which recommended and harped on a TSA for African countries, the far-reaching resolutions of that gathering have remained in the dustbin of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism (or Culture, Information and National Orientation).

    Incidentally, that novel meeting was hosted by immediate past minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed. However, nearly five years after, nothing in that direction has been done by way of implementation of its decisions.

    It is against this backdrop that FTAN reminded the new minister of the need to reactivate the project as a way of lifting and pointing out a new direction for the industry operators, in particular, and the country’s economy in general.

    According to FTAN, Federal Government has ‘to create awareness and understanding of the implementation of Tourism Satellite Accounts (TSA) which is very important in tracking and keeping records of the National tourism growth and development indices, statistically.’
    Minister of Tourism, Ms. Lola Ade-John in a group photograph with members of the Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN) led by President, Mr Nkereuwem Onung, who paid a courtesy visit to her office in Abuja, Thursday

    Onung further revisited the controversial National Tourism Masterplan, which since its official launch in 2006 under the tenure of Mr Adetokunbo Kayode, in Abuja, has come under heavy criticism for being too alien, and copied from the UNWTO without adaptation to the Nigerian peculiar environment.

    Subsequent tenures of ministers like Chief Edem Duke had attempted to ‘domesticate’ it by including the concept of ‘tourism clusters,’ an attempt which was also rebuffed by operators, until its present state of abandonment by various states and private operators.

    FTAN seeks the Federal Government attention to revisit the masterplan. This in addition to the idea of allowing individual states of the federation to draw up their own tourism masterplans, which FTAN posits ‘will equally serve as a roadmap and guide in the implementation of their tourism development programs and activities.’

    According to Onung, government needs to revisit the National Tourism Masterplan, as, according to him, ‘Nigeria cannot talk about developing the tourism industry without a roadmap to guide it to do so most effectively and efficiently which is the objective of the National Tourism Development Plan as a vital document.’

    FTAN also sought the reactivation of the mandatory but now abandoned Federal Government’s hosting of the National Council on Tourism, which was a platform ‘where important national policies and programs on tourism industry are discussed, far reaching decisions are taken, giving guide and direction to national tourism activities for sustainability and enhancement.’

    This is further as the group backed the formation of Commissioners of Tourism Forum, which it said ‘will bring all commissioners of tourism across the country together and afford them to discuss tourism development issues in their domains as well as offer the opportunity for synergy in national tourism development matters.’

    The tourism operators’ group, in addition to its proposals before the minister, urged the Federal Government to come up with a calendar of events which will include all key tourism and hospitality events across the country annually.

    “Besides giving national tourism events a line of focus and direction in preparedness, it will guide tourists to prepare their schedules to attend tourism and hospitality events in the country by both local and international visitors,” the FTAN president told the minister.

    The business group also advocated the revival of the long rested Presidential Council of Tourism, which it said was a platform brings together key stakeholders from the public sector comprising lines Ministries, Departments and Agencies at all levels of government as well as the organized private sector in the tourism industry with His Excellency, the President and Commander-in-Chief as Chairman of the council.

    Continuing, Onung recalled the ‘the thorny issue of Grading and Classification of Tourism and Hospitality establishments’ which he said needs to be in place to guide ‘standard operation patterns for tourism and hospitality establishments in the country in line with global best practices.”

    FTAN also made a case before the minister to be carried along in programs, events and projects of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) on tourism development matters and initiatives.

    “We need to be informed, keep pace, and be carried along in international tourism development issues. “This should be in collaboration with the organized private sectors for credibility and legitimacy.

    “For instance, the UNWTO strategy on innovation and Education, Digital Transformation and Investments, and others, the group told the minister, as it further included the attendance of International Tourism and Hospitality Events.

    “For instance, the World Tourism Market (WTM), FITUR, INDABA, and others,” adding that; ‘the Federal Government should organize and lead the country’s delegation and attendance of such events.’

    In conclusion, FTAN advised the Federal Government ‘to key into the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Agenda on Tourism of the United Nations and devise means to implement policies to promote sustainable tourism that creates jobs, and promotes local culture and products.’

    While commending President Bola Tinubu for ‘creating a separate Ministry for Tourism, which it said heeded ‘the cry of the industry,’ FTAN also hailed Ms Ade-John’s ‘worthiest appointment,’ describing it as ‘a good omen and literally the best thing that has happened to the industry in recent years given your pedigree and unalloyed commitment and dedication to the service of the country.’

    The FTAN President, therefore, expressed the trust that Ms Ade-John’s emergence ‘will bring to bear in positioning Nigeria as a country that should enormously rely on the Tourism Industry because of the immense economic values it has to offer.’

    Responding, in her brief remarks, Ade-John reechoed President Tinubu’s charge to all the ministerial appointees to revitalize their sectors, even as she thanked the FTAN delegation for the courtesy visit to her office ‘despite the tight space in the meeting room.’

    The minister assured FTAN of her commitment to ‘push in ways and modalities to make tourism in Nigeria work,’ with the cooperation of the private sector enterprise stakeholders like the group.

    On the abandoned TSA, the minister explained that since she is coming from a background of technology and data, she ‘will ensure the TSA works.’

    “Presently, I am working closely with all the ministers to ensure that the mandate to which they were appointed by President Bola Tinubu were achieved and do all within their power to ensure they succeeded,” Ms Ade-John said.

    On the issue of carrying FTAN along in government attendance at international events, the minister assured that she is working closely with all the parastatals and the ministry to attend those events in order ‘to tell the world that Tourism in Nigeria is back.’

    On partnership with private sector operators in the industry, the minister assured of her readiness to ‘gladly talk to FTAN anytime’ and FTAN should feel free to come to the office to see her anytime.

    Members of the FTAN delegation in the courtesy visit to the Tourism minister’s office included the executive committee officers, and some presidents of affiliate associations.

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    FAAN: Improvement of Passenger Facilitation, Security Gave Boost to Tourism

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    FAAN: Improvement of Passenger Facilitation, Security Gave Boost to Tourism

    The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) said that its improvement of airport facilities, passenger facilitation and security has encouraged tourism in Nigeria.

    The agency said that the drastic action taken by the Managing Director, Mrs. Olubunmi Kuku against touting at the airports has brought sanity and orderliness to the satisfaction of travellers.

    Kuku identified some of these achievements when she spoke at the Wings of Change Focus Africa Conference (WOCFA) overseen by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) last week; held in Johannesburg, South Africa.

    A statement signed by the Director, Public Affairs & Consumer Protection, Obiageli Orah, said FAAN has recently taken steps to make Nigeria’s airports safe and accessible by genuine tourists and travellers and has also made efforts to eliminate touting and other forms of criminal conducts around the airports.

    FAAN boss also spoke on the recent creation of a dedicated Department for Cargo Services in the agency, as stakeholders emphasized the need for improvement of trade facilitation, including air cargo facilities and infrastructure, cargo compliance, closer collaboration amongst African countries and Stakeholders as well as Cargo Specialized Training for stakeholders.

    There was emphasis on digitalization of passenger processing and how the embrace of robotics technology by airports in Africa would help to give customers further experience of speed, efficiency and excellence. The use of technology to drive efficiency has been part of FAAN’s priority agenda under the present dispensation.

    Making his input on the first day of the conference, the Minister of Aviation & Aerospace Development, Mr. Festus Keyamo, emphasised the need for removal of visa restrictions to enable free movement of people and goods across the continent, stating that to achieve this, there is need to work with Foreign Affairs Ministers across Africa.

    The Minister equally made a case for adequate funding of air transport in Africa.

    Also speaking at the event, IATA,s Regional Vice President, Africa & Middle East, Kamil Alawadhi called for pursuit of net zero carbon emissions by 2050, which constitutes part of FAAN’s recent programmes.

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    Ekiti is safe for tourists’ traffic-Ojo-Lanre

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    Ekiti is safe for tourists’ traffic-Ojo-Lanre

    Following the Ekiti State renewed effort to attract tourist’s influx to the numerous wonder sites scattered around the state and especially the flag destination, Ikogosi Warm and Cold Springs Resort, the Director-General of Ekiti State Bureau of Tourism Development, Ambassador Wale Ojo-Lanre, has said that the state is safe with the level of security architecture put in by the government.

    Ojo-Lanre disclosed this to tourism writers, on ground to see the new face of Ikogosi Warm and Cold Spring Resort and noted that Ikogosi, which is the new pride of the state, is perfectly safe and welcoming to tourists.

    Clearing the air on anxieties of insecurity in the state, Ojo-Lanre said the recounted bouts happened on the suburbs of Ekiti, maintaining that the tourism zones like Ikogosi community and its environ are safe.

    He said there were cautious efforts by the state government to secure tourists. “I don’t want to expose our security strategy, but I can tell you that we are the only state that has a homeland security as a parastatal under my agency. We know what is going on. When the road is not safe, tourism is in danger,” he stated.

    Meanwhile the Ekiti State government is fine-tuning plans to develop a tourism master plan, a working blueprint to practically explore and develop products and services to create and drive the economy of the state.

    Ojo-Lanre explained that for any serious state to enhance its tourism potentialities to the expected capacity, it must first develop a tourism master plan.

    “A tourism development master plan is a necessity for any state that wants to develop and the state governor, Biodun Abayomi Oyebanji, emphasised that the first thing we have to do is to develop a tourism master plan for Ekiti and we started.

    “We have started drafting our tourism policy and we have identified the consultants to work on our tourism master plan. It would be delivered between August and October this year,” Ojo-Lanre added.

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    Eliminate insurgents at Kainji Park

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    Eliminate insurgents at Kainji Park

    KAINJI National Park, an expansive natural reserve in Niger State covering an area of about 5,341 square kilometres, and known for its biodiversity and rich cultural heritage, has unfortunately garnered attention for a much more sinister reason. A recent report revealed that the park has become a haven for terrorists. This alarming development calls for urgent and decisive action to reclaim the park and ensure the safety of the wildlife and the surrounding communities.

    The Clingendael Institute, a Dutch think-tank, in a new report, said there is ample evidence Islamic terrorists from the Sahel have crossed into Nigeria through the Benin Republic border. The jihadis believed to be of the ISWAP sect, were said to have settled in Kebbi State and the KNP, turning the facility into their base.

    In reaction, the Director, Defence Media Operations, Edward Buba said the military was conducting operations in terrorist enclaves in the North-Central, which includes the KNP. A targeted military assault to root out the terrorists should not be delayed.

    The presence of terrorists in Kainji is a stark reminder of the broader security challenges that Nigeria faces. These groups exploit the remote and dense forest areas as strategic hideouts, using the park as a base for planning and executing attacks.

    The insurgents are engaged in poaching, logging, and mining, weakening the park’s protection, and further endangering the flora and fauna. The local communities have deserted their homes for IDP camps while several kidnapped persons are being held captive by the criminals.

    The park, part of Nigeria’s first and largest protected area, is home to wildlife, including elephants, lions, and numerous bird species. The park encompasses Kainji Lake, a critical resource. The terrorists’ invasion poses significant national security implications for Nigeria.

    Kainji Dam, which plays a crucial role in Nigeria’s hydroelectric power generation and irrigation systems, is located near the KNP. The dam’s presence within the park means that any security threats to the park, such as terrorist occupation, directly impact the safety and functionality of this critical infrastructure.

    Any attack on the dam or other facilities could disrupt electricity generation, affecting millions of Nigerians and causing significant economic and social upheaval.

    The seizure of the park by the insurgents has severe humanitarian implications. Local communities, who depend on the park for their livelihoods through fishing, farming, and tourism, live in fear. The terrorists’ activities disrupt economic activities, displace families, and create an environment of instability.

    Nigeria has suffered huge losses to Boko Haram and ISWAP rebels since 2009 when the militants started fighting the state. Human losses and displacements, especially in the North-East epicentre, are horrendous.

    To reclaim the park from the insurgents, an immediate and well-coordinated military action is essential. This intervention should be precise to avoid collateral damage to the park’s ecosystem and local communities. Empowering local security forces with training and resources can help maintain security once the initial military operations are completed. Establishing a permanent security presence in and around the park will prevent the terrorists from reoccupying it.

    Leveraging international support and expertise in counterterrorism and conservation can enhance Nigeria’s efforts. Partnerships with global conservation organisations can also help restore and protect the park’s biodiversity post-conflict. Implementing advanced monitoring and surveillance technologies, such as drones and satellite imagery, can provide real-time information on illegal activities and movement within the park, enabling quicker and more effective responses.

    Restoring the park to its rightful status as a sanctuary for wildlife and a resource for sustainable development is not only a national imperative but a global one. The world is watching, and President Bola Tinubu must rise to this challenge, demonstrating resilience and determination in adversity.

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