Africa: ‘Tour Nigeria’ project, NTDC new effort to transform domestic tourism

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LAST weekend, Mr. Folorunsho Folarin-Coker, Director General, Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation, defied the historic downpour that resulted in unprecedented flooding that almost submerged some of Nigeria’s most expensive areas of Lagos in an effort to launch the ‘Tour Nigeria’ project, which according him, would raise the nation’s tourism prospects by restoring hope and excitement in Nigerians to begin to seek and explore the limitless domestic tourism products of the country.

While Africa struggles to raise its tourism receipts from the outside world, and now it has recorded appreciable increase in the number of intra-African tourists, going the recently released UNCTAD Report for 2017.

This renewed effort by the NTDC is coming on the heels of about half a decade that the tourism body has continued to experience its lowest performance; a consequence which resulted in the new government in the country actually scrapping the ministry of tourism and then merged it under the ministry of information and culture. Still, the challenges which grounded the industry still remain unchanged. So, any effort that promises to inject new life into the industry is a welcome effort.

“The ‘Tour Nigeria’ project actually aims to recreate and stimulate the desire of Nigerians to leave their traditional environment and to move on to another environment to enjoy the abundance tourism assets for which this country is lavishly blessed with’, Mr. Folorunsho exclaimed excitedly during the press conference held at the Boat Club in Ikoyi, Lagos as he officially unveiled the Tour Nigeria project.

The DG also revealed the “CHIEF” plan, which he termed to be ‘a 5-point action plan that aims to promote domestic tourism and encourage ease of doing business in Nigeria’, as the foothold upon which the ‘Tour Nigeria’ project would be driven and achieved.
‘The “CHIEF” is an acronym for Corporate government and Regulations; Human Capital Development; Infrastructural Development; Events and Marketing and Finance and Investment’, he said.

Expatiating on the corporate governance and regulations Mr. Folarin-Coker underscored the imperative of instituting a continuous line of communication and interactions between the NTDC and various stakeholders as critical to the success and sustenance of the drive to achieve his vision for stimulating domestic tourism in the country.

‘On corporate governance, the NTDC will continually interact with stakeholders in the tourism industry’, he maintained even as revealed that the tourism body would establish a system for periodic information dissemination on the tourism industry to the general public, while he also revealed that the NTDC will organize and host tourism exhibition in Abuja to coincide with the World Tourism Day.

Other items the NTDC boss listed included that it will ensure the ease of entry and exit of tourists in and out of the country. Access to visas must be prompt,, accessible and affordable. Review of the Nigerian the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation Act no 81 of 1992 and all existing tourism laws, licensing rates and fees. Review of the inland water transportation policy and seek the support of the NIWA to promote, support and monitor tourism on our waterways; NTDC would be the steering agency in all committees that relate to tourism and embark on a familiarization tour across Nigeria in 3 phases across the six geo-political zones.

Mr. Folarin-Coker speaking on Human Capital Development explained that his administration would “increase tourism capacity and efficiency by employment, training of staff, and provision of state-of-the-art equipment and recommend the introduction of Tourism Education as a course across Nigerian Universities and Secondary Schools.

For infrastructural development, he explained that NTDC would ‘request for all National Tourism assets to be handed over to the corporation for rehabilitation into qualitative and functional world class establishments e.g. Takwa Bay. And that the federal government should convert available government infrastructure and open spaces to contemporary tourism spaces while he insisted that the corporation would also champion the upgrade of beaches and waterfronts in Calabar, Bayelsa and Lagos to world class standards.

“The NTDC would create a Brand campaign to promote domestic tourism, the Tour Nigeria; harness digital and online communities to promote destinations and tourism activities in Nigeria on twitter, Facebook, Instagram; introduce an ‘In-Residence’ Program to engage domestic tourism influencers and also harness the country’s assets to promote an all-year round tourism destination through entertainment, fashion, festivals and Arts and culture.

Mr. Folarin-Coker accepted that it is an enormous financial commitment to carry out all he mentioned without finance. He explained that for finance, the tourism corporation would “launch the National Tourism Development Fund as a joint initiative of private and public sector including international donors and agencies. We will also empower a business development team to manage and optimize internally generated revenue”.

Reacting to questions on the issues of insecurity as it relates to the industry, the DG was quick to react, asking, ‘Is Nigeria crime capital of the world? Is this country the most insecure country in the world? Are we the most backward country?

‘Nigerians are the ones over bloating our security problems! Do you have an idea the damage we do our country with the casting of casting negative headlines? Those headlines negatively affect our tourism prospects and fortunes. We have had security issues but the government is arresting that. Nigeria is not the most corrupt, kidnaping and crime capital of the world”, he protested.

‘I implore the media to be promoters of the tourism assets and efforts at lifting it in this country’, he concluded.

By Renn Offor

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