On behalf of the organized private sector tourism business owners and operators in Nigeria, we hereby condole with the families of the two victims, both in Nigeria and the United Kingdom. We equally express our heartfelt sympathy with the families of the three Nigerian staff of Kajuru Castle who were abducted by the bandits, and call on security agencies to intensify efforts in rescuing them unhurt.
The general public may recall that the government has recently deployed security agencies, including the military, to quell the recurring violent community crises in Kajuru Local Government in Kaduna State. It is unfortunate that the festering community crises has now escalated to this unprovoked attack on a popular tourist resort in Kaduna State.
As the Federation representing Tourism Associations in Nigeria, we understandably see this attack on tourists at Kajuru Castle as a heinous crime against the already struggling Nigerian tourism industry. For which, our tourism businesses, nationwide, are being undermined by this wicked attack, even as Nigeria is being regrettably characterized as an unsafe tourism destination.
As the private sector representatives of the tourism industry, over the years, we have consistently called on both the Federal and State governments to provide adequate security at every tourist site across Nigeria. This is necessary because, aside the protection of Nigerian tourism sites and investments, tourism is an international service trade and social endeavour which can improve Nigeria’s image globally. Hence, tourism businesses in Nigeria should be encouraged, not poorly unprotected. Insecurity in any country is anathema to tourism development.
This latest attack on Kajuru Castle is a sad commentary and a glaring wake-up call. The government should immediately rise to the occasion and prevent a recurrence before it escalates and become entrenched in Nigeria. Such attack on tourists can deeply hurt Nigeria’s tourism development efforts and destroy our growing brand as a cultural tourism destination.
We therefore recommend the establishment of Tourism Police to be deployed at popular tourist destinations in Nigeria. The idea of Tourism Police is not new, it is a tested Policing structure currently being implemented at several international tourist destinations in Africa and the West.
Additionally, we call on the Nigerian Police and Department of State Security to readily avail tour operators with armed escorts, as they move around with tourists at known flash points in Nigeria.
Tourism is a significant contributor to Nigeria’s GDP and one of the largest employer of labour in Nigeria, as such no effort should be spared to stabilize the industry. Government needs to prioritize Nigeria’s tourism industry by creating a standalone Federal Ministry of Tourism and Culture, so that issues of tourism development and operational policies would be expeditiously dealt with. The existence of a standalone Tourism Ministry would foster public and private partnerships, which is the globally accepted method of sustainable national tourism development and economic growth.
Finally, we implore the tourist public, both domestic and international, not to loose faith in the safety of tourists at any Nigerian tourist destination. FTAN would continue to support government’s efforts to secure the country and to improve the operational environment of tourism operators in Nigeria.
Alhaji Saleh Kareem Rabo
The President, Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria.