By Osa Mbonu-Amadi, Arts Editor
The organised tourism associations under the Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN), the umbrella body for private operators in tourism, travel and hospitality, has vowed to boycott what it terms “the quest by the Minister (of Information & Culture and (his) Ministry to turn Nigeria into ‘Father Christmas’ by scheming to host the so-called First World Conference On Cultural Tourism And Creative Industry scheduled to hold between November 14 and 17, 2022 at the National Arts Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos which is undergoing renovation courtesy of the Nigeria Bankers’ Committee.
Addressing a press conference last Wednesday in Lagos, President of FTAN, Mr. Nkereuwem Onung, said the Minister of Information & Culture and his ministry have not been promoting tourism in the past 7 years, wondering why they are now eager to bring to Nigeria the World Tourism Organization, the United Nations specialized agency entrusted with the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism.
In an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, FTAN says “the supervising ministry for tourism, the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, and the Minister in charge, Alhaji Lai Mohammed…have neglected tourism, with no basic policy direction, programmes and activities wholly initiated and/or in partnership with the private sector to drive tourism in other to improve its contribution to the country’s GDP.”
“The Ministry and Minister appear to have an avowed disdain for domestic tourism and working with the private sector as the fulcrum to change the narrative and disruptive innovations in the sector as has been done in other climes.
“Not even in the difficult era of COVID-19 when most of the MDAs worked closely with the private sector to devise palliative for survival strategies did the Minister and Ministry think it wise to court the private sector. The only reaction from the Minister was to set up a ‘controversial’ creative industry committee to work out palliatives for the sector.
“Unfortunately, the recommendations of the committee and the review committee are today gathering dust and cobwebs in the ‘golden’ cabinet of the Minister; neither disclosed nor recommendations implemented,” the letter said.
Mr. Onung said angling to bring UNWTO to open the Private Sector-renovated National Theatre amounts to deceit – deceiving the world into believing that tourism is flourishing in Nigeria when the real condition is complete neglect of tourism by the minister and the ministry.
Also speaking at the press conference, renowned tourism journalist, Lucky Onoriode George, said Africa has become a hunting ground for all kinds of foreigners. “Hosting this conference is a waste of public fund. We are bleeding tourism-wise,” he said.