Onung who gave the remarks at the opening of the 5th edition of the National Tourism and Transportation Summit and Expo at the Abuja International Conference Centre on Monday said the touism sector have been sidelined because of the absence of a stand alone ministry to activate its pivotal role; as a relevant ecosystem of the Nigeria economy.
“ Let me also appreciate the fact that we are talking about the link between transportation and tourism; now this link is very important because when we want to calculate the Gross Domestic Product of Tourism, we will look at travels and that is why we were sometimes told that they can’t give us the ministry of our own because they’ve not seen the contribution of tourism to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
When you add up the contribution of transportation and you bring aviation and other allied tourism sector business that made up the value chain together, it will give you an incredible outlook of data and inflow that will blow your mind.
“We have many people who are doing event and because they think tourism is not viable, they begin to get into alliance with other departments of the economy and that is why we want to use this opportunity to call on the Federal Government to re-enact the PCT; where you will bring the eight different ministries together so that tourism would find focus in Nigeria.
Onung who spoke passionately about the setback experience in the tourism said “Today as a sector, we are so dysfunctional and you can’t believe it because we even think that some of the agencies of the government are illegal because of the laws in operations; And because of the 2019 judgement of the surpreme Court, we are told that tourism reside with the States but we know that tourism should be a national phenomenon and that is the problem we have.
The FTAN president who said that transportation is not the only bottleneck of tourism highlighted other problems of the sector to include non availability of functional master plan and outdated tourism policies, thereby calling for conversation; saying “ it is time for us to sit together to explore the lowest hanging fruit of tourism for the development of our country.
He however commend Institute of Tourism Professional of Nigeria for organizing an event that is pivotal to the stimulation of the public and private sector partnership, saying that the success of the summit and expo rest on the fact that it was anchored by a private sector.
Kudos to the private sector, all hope is not lost; this industry the most, and in fact the impact of COVID-19; the hotels were shotdown for 12 months, most people lost their jobs and businesses, the airlines where not flying and yet the aviation sector managed to get a relief from the government because of its role and that was why NANTA share from it.
“This industry needs help and that is why I am asking the Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Information and Culture, to take the mssage back to our Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed that we want to know what happened to the FG approved COVID-19 palliative “relief fund” for the tourism sector, we are interested in it. Lets not sweep it under the carpet.”
Onung thanked the organiser of the National Tourism transportation summit and Expo, Chief Abiodun Odusanwo for creating an environment for conversation; we only have two major events like this-Akwaaba African Travel Market and this event, so we cannot afford not to be here.
Going futher on opportunity for Nigeria in the continent, Onung informed the audience on the Africa agenda 2063, which outline the Africa that we all want, according to him, it is the blurprint and the masterplan for transforming Africa, AfCFTA is real and we have to be practical to be part of the moving train.
“ITPN is one of the 23 associations that make up a federation, which is the voice of tourism in Nigeria, in FTAN, we are trying to bring forth the TRIC Mandate; there have to be tourism marketing in Nigeria, destination Nigeria have to be empahasised and we are coming to a position we have to do proper advocacy; insurance has to be done and capacity building has to be emphasized to give the tourism industry a viable and sustainable meaning to the Nigeria economy.” Onung added.