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    Tourism minister urges Nigerians to preserve historical assets

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    THE Minister of Tourism, Mrs Lola Ade-John, has urged Nigerians to preserve the nation’s historical and cultural assets for posterity.

    Ade-John said this during the 10th edition of Wonders of Nigeria Expo, on Friday in Lagos.

    She said Nigerians must be passionate in preserving the nation’s tourism assets and develop some sense of pride in them.

    Akonitv reports that the Wonders of Nigeria Expo, organised by Ikechi Uko, a tourism promoter, is designed to deliberately highlight and promote Nigeria’s historical sites.

    The event featured photo exhibition of over 1,000 tourist sites cutting across the 36 states of the nation, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

    “As we celebrate the 10th edition of this expo, let us not only marvel at the wonders before us but also reflect on the importance of preserving and protecting them for future generations.

    “It is our collective responsibility to ensure that these treasures remain intact for years to come so that others may experience the same sense of awe and wonder that we feel today.

    “In order to achieve this, we must carry along our people. Community engagement is vital to the preservation of our assets and history.

    “We must engage our local communities and train them on basic tourism skills, entrepreneurship, hospitality, cleanliness as well as love and respect for cultural differences.

    “This approach embodies what I call the ‘Doctrine According to Tourism.’ It will empower and encourage our people to contribute to the country’s revenue diversity plan as the President emphasises in his Renewed Hope Agenda,” she said.

    The minister urged Nigerians on the need to promote responsible tourism by dwelling more on telling positive stories of Nigeria to attract tourists.

    She said, “Nigeria is a beautiful country, people pay a lot to see gorillas, go on water and we have them, the only thing we do not have is our sense of pride, that has to change , we need to love this country.

    “As government, we will ensure we set up standards, resuscitate the presidential tourism council and encourage the doctrine of tourism.”

    Earlier, Nneka Isaac-Moses, Managing Director, Goge Africa, urged the Federal Government to invest in training and capacity building for practitioners in the industry.

    She said government must also work on provision of accommodation facilities at identified tourism sites within the country for tourists’ comfort.

    She appealed to government at all levels to support in funding and creating enabling environment for tourism businesses to thrive.

    Also, Mrs Ime Udom, National President, Nigeria Association of Tour Operators (NATOP), spoke on the contributions of Nigerian tour operators toward grooming the industry.

    According to Udom, these tour operators over the years, have been able to unravel new tourism sites, promote and drive traffic to such sites.

    She, however, called the federal government to work directly with tour operators and ensure provision of grants for them, to be able to do more.

    She said the needed infrastructures should also be provided at all tourism and heritage sites to make marketing of such sites easier.

    Ibrahim Makanjuola, Founder of Nigeria Tourism Lovers, said accessing some of the nation’s tourism sites was problematic due to poor road network.

    Makanjuola advised the federal government to work on putting in place good roads.

    ”Security personnel should also be sensitised on the business of tourism.

    “Government needs to help us, we are often harrassed by security operatives while on tour, they see us as youths gallivanting around, and as fraudsters, these security personnel must be taught the business of tourism.”

    The highlight of the event was the presentation of ‘Travellers Award’ to some individuals who have contributed toward promotion of tourism sites in the country.

    Ekiti, Abia, Enugu, Edo and Cross River states won the most active tourism state of the year 2023 while Gov. Eno Umo emerged the governor of the year 2023.

    Alhaji Nura Kangiwa, Director-General, National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism (NIHOTOUR), won the ‘2023 Tourism Chief Executive Officer’ award.

    Ibom Air bagged the best airline in 2023, Mrs Ime Udom won the tourism promoter of the year award while Ekiti and Akwa Ibom states won the most sort after.

    Favour Udom emerged the tourism photographer of the year and Funke Ogunkoya-Futi bagged the travel communicator of the year award.

    100 practitioners who were trained on tourism promotion were inducted into the “Tourism 100 Club”.

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    Opinion

    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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