Key stakeholders in Nigeria’s tourism and transport sectors came together to explore the benefits of working closely together at the maiden edition of National Tourism Transport Summit and Exhibition(NTTS), which was held from May 21 to 22 at the International Conference Center Abuja.
Kayode Adeshola, Director Capstone Travels and VP NANTA-Abuja Zone, told Inside Travel that for the first time this event offered the opportunity for policy makers, regulators, entrepreneurs and all the key players in the tourism and transport sectors to engage and discuss collaboration for the future growth of Nigeria.
Kayode explained that the outcome of the event was hugely successful. He said: “A working committee from both the transport and tourism industries has been set up and will map out a concrete strategy for future collaboration between the two sectors. We’ve seen wonderful presentations at the summit, but now the working committee will swing into action and make sure things materialise as soon as possible.”
According to Kayode, the main challenge for the travel industry in Nigeria so far has been that the government has not created an enabling environment for the organized private stakeholders to blossom in travel and tourism. “Thanks in part to the National Tourism and Transport Summit, the government is now waking up to the positive change travel and tourism can effect to the country’s economy,” he said, adding that the government has promised to make more funding available to the tourism and transport sectors in the next budget speech.
Historically, the government has mainly channelled energies on the oil sector, having no respect for tourism. However, Kayode pointed out that, this is about to change as the importance of travel and tourism becomes clear. He congratulated the President of the Institute For Tourism Professionals(ITP) Chief Abiodun Odusanwo and the members of the Organising Committee for their efforts to ensure a successful Summit. “I have no doubt that the Summit has achieved the targeted objectives of ITP and the National Transport Council,” he said.
In his keynote speech, the Director-General, Nigerian Maritime Administration And Safety Agency Dr. Dakuku Peterside also highlighted this shift in focus. He said: “ This summit could not have come at a better time than now when the government is desirous and working towards a diversified economy.”
Dr Peterside warned that the overdependence on a single commodity, in this case, crude oil, for the survival of an entire nation portends a grave economic danger not only because of the volatility of the commodity price but also because of the more present danger of diminishing demand as a result of the discovery of alternative sources of energy.
Said Dr Peterside: “It is now more imperative than ever that we focus on finding other sources of income before the doomsday arrives. There are no better areas to focus on now than the Transport and Tourism industry because of our Natural endowments in these sectors. It is therefore very heart-warming that these two industries are now coming together for an effective collaboration and synergy to achieve the desired economic diversification and prosperity for the country.”
The importance of tourism in Nigeria will soon be put into concrete numbers, according to Kayode as UNWTO recently signed a Cooperation Agreement with the National Bureau of Statistics(NBS) in collaboration with stakeholders such as the Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation(NTDC) for the Strengthening of the National Tourism Statistical System of Nigeria and the Development of a Tourism Satellite Account(TSA).
UNWTO said it is committed to developing tourism measurement for furthering knowledge of the sector, monitoring progress, evaluating impact, promoting a results-oriented management, and highlighting strategic issues for policy objectives.
UNWTO will hold the 61st meeting of the UNWTO Commission for Africa and the Seminar on ‘Tourism Statistics: A Catalyst for Development’ in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, from 4 to 6 June 2018.
Check out some pictures of the event here: