The opportunities for Travel & Tourism in NigeriaÂ are extraordinary. So, the call by the Minister for Culture & Tourism, Alhaji Abubakar Sadiq Mohammed, on the private sector to work with the government to develop plans for sustainable and profitable growth in the sector is commendable.
In recent years, the organised private sector associations in the tourism sector in the country have tended to see themselves as rival to the apex tourism body in the country, the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC).
When the Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN)was created in 1996. It was formed as anÂ umbrella organisation defending the interests of all the stakeholdersÂ involved in the tourism industry.
It has in its fold representatives of associations like that ofÂ hoteliers, airlines, travel agents,Â tour operators,Â ground members operators, among others.
FTAN is recognised by the Federal Government of Nigeria as one of the key players in shaping theÂ future of the tourismÂ industry in Nigeria.
But it is disheartening that the body which ought to sanitize the private sector and galvanize them for profitability is now more interested in creating parallel activities in the industry.
It is strange to find the federation setting up committees onÂ Tourism Fairs and Marketing Services, Manpower Development, Legislation and Standards. The question one is tempted to ask is what are the function of these committeesâ€™ members.
Is FTAN saying it has power to legislate on who organises travel and tourism fairs in the country or who operates in the industry in Nigeria? It has none of these power, the body can only work with the government on these issues.
So, the visit of the body to the Minister of Culture & Tourism recently is a welcome development which afforded the body to make its positions known to the government and for the government to point out what is expected from them.
Samuel Alabi, FTAN National President, who led the delegation to the Minister disclosed the willingness of FTAN to continue to serve as the apex body that will provide leadership, direction and control for the travel and tourism private sector, to interact with government on behalf of the private sector, represent the private sectorâ€™s interest in the sector with the view to harnessing the abundant tourism potentials in the country. The federation also urged the minister to revive the Presidential Committee on Tourism [PCT], established by the Olusegun Obasanjoâ€™s Administration.
The umbrella body for the tourism private sector further requested that the federation to be included or represented on the boards of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation [NTDC], and that of the National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism Study [NIHOTOUR], two tourism parastatals out of the eight parastatals under the ministry, and the full implementation of the Tourism Master Plan.
The Minister of Culture & Tourism, Abubakar Mohammed, in his responseÂ stressed the need for the body to work with government as the ministry is poised to take a retrospective review of all endorsements granted in the past.
In the words of the minister, â€œa lot of people are doing things that are not right in the sectorâ€, a development he assured would be corrected soonest with the strengthening of legislation guiding the sector to ensure only genuine practitioners were allowed to do tourism business.
To this end, the Minister told the practitionersâ€you have to be subservient to NTDC as government is the one that takes responsibility for actions of practitionersâ€
He further said; â€œgovernment is reviewing the processes of giving endorsements to people, as there are some people out there doing all kinds of things in the name of tourism.
According to the chief tourism officer of the federation, â€œthere may be some information we have that FTAN may not have about individuals and groups that may have been given endorsements,â€ he said