The declaration of COVID-19 as a global pandemic in January led to international travel restrictions, national travel bans and sub-national lockdowns, leading to massive cancellations of tourism and hospitality services, in destinations all over the world.
Consequently, the travel tourism and hospitality sectors in Nigeria have unimaginably, taken a direct hit with attendant tales of woes including corporate bankruptcies and large-scale job losses.
Alhaji Nura Kangiwa, Director-General, National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism (NIHOTOUR), said the International travel restrictions imposed by most countries in the wake of the first, and now second wave of COVID-19 has literally crippled the global tourism industry.
(The newly appointed Director General of NIHOTOUR, Alhaji Nura Sani Kangiwa, recently granted an exclusive interview to Justina Uzu of ThisDay Newspapers. In this no-holds-barred interview, the quintessential Director General revealed his plans to jump-start Nigeria tourism development following his appointment as the helmsman of the premier Hospitality and Tourism training Institute in Nigeria and West Africa.)
Question: Recently, we saw your efforts at sports-tourism segment of the Tourism industry especially during Argungu International Fishing Festival. Tell us about the 2020 edition (Argungu International Fishing Festival).
Answer: The 2020 Argungu International Fishing and Cultural Festival was epochal for many reasons, including the infusion of Polo tournament, which is sports tourism. Recall that prior to 2020, the fishing festival hadn't been held for 10 years. So, it was a Herculean task breaking the jinx to host the fishing festival and to include other tourism features. We were also able to make the fishing festival truly international by ensuring the cultural participation of five neighboring West African countries.
The Federal Government is contemplating partial commercialisation of existing national parks in the country.
The parks penciled down for the exercise are Kainji Lake, Cross River, and Gashaka Gumti National Parks. Already, discussions have begun among the leadership of the parks and relevant agencies to fashion out a blueprint for the kick-off of the programme.
The Conservator General, Dr. Ibrahim Goni, who stated this in a statement in Abuja, said their potential for recreation parks are exceedingly high, but they are not properly harnessed to achieve the goals.
Goni assured that they would support the private partnership initiative on the partial concession of the national parks by the Federal Government to provide recreational centres for citizens.