Thursday, June 18, 2015

Govt urged to strengthen tourism institutions

By Jimoh Babatunde

The National President of Nigerian Association of Tour Operators (NATOP ), Mr. Nkereuwem Onug has urged the new government to focus on strengthening the various tourism institutions in the country so as to derive maximum economic benefits in the sector.
He said as a way of taking off there is the need to seek for those with knowledge of the industry so as to close the knowledge gap being experienced now.

Speaking with Vanguard in Durban, South Africa recently, Nkereuwem said “We need to develop the institutions , we need to get knowledgable people into positions.”

While noting that Nigeria has a lot of work to do to grow its tourism, Nkereuwem said Nigeria needs to be a little more serious as a country . “We need to make tourism to yield or improve our GDP.

“We have actually not developed our potentials, when you come to South Africa and see what is happening then you know we have not started, maybe because of oil, we now know that oil is drying up, so it is time for us as a nation to be a bit serious in tourism.

He said “when you come to a country like south africa and see what is happening, you can imagine the contributions of tourism to the country’s GDP, then we have not started, so there is lot of work to be done back home in nigeria.”

The tour operators boss said the first thing is about knowledge , then the next thing is how do we tap that knowledge and turn it to our benefit. “I think the first thing to do is strengthen the institutions and then get people with knowledge into offices so as to close the knowledge gap.”

Nkereuwem said the government needs to strengthen Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), “it needs to be refocused. The tourism ministry needs to know what they are doing. Who is marketing our country? For the past two years or so, we have not had any marketing Effects.”

While calling for a complete re-orientation , he said Nigeria needs to sell leisure tourism and doing that we need to sell it to Nigerians. “Yes, the domestic tourism is okay, but you also need to bring people to nigeria. Our focus needs to change, what we show to the world also needs to change. So I think there is a lot that needs to be done. We needs to strengthen the institutions.”

He added “There is also the issue of the partnership with the private sector. The partnership has to be with strong institutions before we can be able to stand. “Tourism is collaboration between the tour operators, the hoteliers, and entertainment . It is about consciousness and our people saying this is what we want.”
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