It was a night of nostalgia as the Federation of Tourism Association of Nigeria, FTAN, honoured its pioneer members and past leaders when it celebrated its 20 years of existence.
Those who fought to give life to tourism business and administration present at the award held at Eko Hotel, Lagos recently were seen hugging and recounting those early days of travelling around the country preaching the gospel of tourism.
Among those who were on ground to receive the awards were Chief Mike Amachree, Mr. Goodie Ibru, Dr. Franklin Adejuwon, Alhaji Munzali Dantata, Chief Josephine Anenih, Chief Margaret Fabiyi (Webisco), Alhaji Inuwa Wada, Mr. Charles Ukomadu, Mr. Charles Abel, Mr. Tope Ogbeni-Awe, Chief Samuel Alabi, BOT Chairman, FTAN, Jemi Alade among others.
Mr. Rabo Saleh, the president of FTAN, said that the event marked another milestone in the history of the association which started 20 years ago.
Saleh said that the idea behind the celebration was to appreciate and honour men and women of proven integrity who have laboured so hard for the growth of the industry.
“Today, I can proudly say that the fruits and labour of these distinguished people have not been in vain. That is why we are celebrating them.
“We are also remembering those that are not here today with us because they had answered the Lord’s call by giving them posthumous awards.
“We are also assuring their family members that we appreciate their contributions to the development of the tourism sector, “he said.
He said that FTAN had remained the driver of tourism sector development in other countries.
He then appealed to the Federal Government to partner FTAN and others in the organised private sector for accelerated national development.
One of the awardees, Dr Franklin Adejuwon, who commended the present executive for deeming it fit to honour those who formed the association, urged them to keep the flag flying.
Another awardee, Mr Ganiyu Balogun, the President, Association of Tourist Boat Operators and Water Transporters of Nigeria, ATBOWATN, said that he encountered several challenges in the industry in the past.
“I survived it because I did not relent. When it was difficult, I endured.
“Today, I am happy to be recognised for my contributions, endurance, perseverance and contributions to the development of the industry,’’ he said.
Balogun, FTAN’s first vice-president, said he was delighted to see the association growing by leaps and bounds.
“It means the efforts of the pioneer members that included me are not in vain,’’ he said.
Balogun appealed to the government to improve the security of lives and property on the waterways and also provide necessary tourism infrastructure.
Also, Mrs Margaret Fabiyi, President, Webisco International Federation of Women Entrepreneurs and Tourism of Nigeria, expressed her joy over the award.
Fabiyi, also a founding member said that the association since its inception, has been promoting the industry.
She appealed to the organisers to make it a periodic event where tourism stakeholders would brainstorm on the development of the industry.