THE Board of Trustees (BoT), Federation of Tourism Association of Nigeria (FTAN), has called for the handover of the management of national parks to private investors for proper management and maintenance.
FTAN Chairman, Mr Samuel Alabi, who made the call in a chat with travel journalists in Lagos, condemned the poor conditions of the national parks in Nigeria, describing such conditions as discouraging.
“The roads leading to the parks are in bad shape, the facilities within the parks are in poor conditions and management nothing to write home about.
“Such parks need to be upgraded to international standard to attract tourists; but the present condition of these parks are not attractive,” he said.
Alabi said that private investors would manage the affairs of the parks effectively. “There is this wrong mentality in people that are appointed to manage government properties. They don’t manage the properties as expected because of the wrong notion that government’s property is nobody’s property.
“The private companies and investors will manage these parks like their privately-owned property because of the agreement and terms and conditions involved,” Alabi said.
He highlighted some of the parks as Yankari Games Reserve, Kainji Lake, Okomu and Old Oyo National Parks.
Alabi said the parks needed to be upgraded to enable them to compete favourably with their foreign counterparts in attracting millions of international tourists and visitors.
The FTAN official advised government to build hotels and recreation facilities around the parks, to make the environment befitting for tourists and visitors.
Alabi urged the government to go into Public and Private Partnership to make the parks attractive.
“The Federal Government has a lot of things to take care of. Therefore, it will be better for it to handover some of the properties, including national parks to private investors to manage on agreement.
“Government should give the investors terms and conditions involved for the management of government properties,” Alabi said.
He was optimistic that the management of national parks by private investors would boost revenue, create employment and increase foreign exchange earnings.
Alabi urged the executive of FTAN to ensure proper management of the association and to create periodically programmes that would promote tourism in Nigeria.