Africa: NTIFE 2019 Seeks a Tourism Development Legislative Framework for Nigeria
The Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN) recently announced the hosting of NTIFE – the Federation’s annual flagship tourism conference and exhibition.
NTIFE is an acronym for Nigeria Tourism Investors Forum and Exhibition; the event started in 2014. The fifth edition of NTIFE is scheduled to hold on the 19th and 20th of November 2019, at the prestigious Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja; Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory.
The 2019 NTIFE Organising Committee is co-chaired by FTAN President, Alhaji Saleh Rabo, who confirmed to reporters that a number of Nigeria tourism stakeholders, leading travel brands and government agencies, including Nigerian Federal and State governments, would showcase their tourism assets and destination offerings during the NTIFE event in Abuja.
It is noteworthy that in previous NTIFE events, some tourism-friendly State governments in Nigeria regularly participated in NTIFE by taking up exhibition booths to showcase tourism potentials in their states, so as to attract tourists, financial investors, and to eventually grow their internally generated revenue (IGR) base.
Speaking with tourism news reporters at FTAN headquarters in Abuja yesterday, October 24th 2019, Alhaji Rabo stated that “our primary goal with NTIFE 2019 is to get a workable consensus among Nigeria tourism stakeholders and facilitate the enactment of a pro-tourism development Act of Parliament. Considering, the intergovernmental and tourism multi-sectoral operative native of the global Tourism industry, Nigeria needs an all encompassing legislative framework that clearly stipulates roles and responsibilities of government and the organized private sector in Nigeria.”
He emphasized that, “FTAN earnestly desire a nationally applicable tourism development legal instrument which respects the rights of State governments to regulate tourism in their domains, and at the same time, empowers the private sector to financially invest in Nigeria tourism development with consequential powers of administration, standardisation and regulation of tourism practice and operations in Nigeria. This is already happening in several leading tourist destinations of the world, and is long overdue in Nigeria, otherwise we would not grow the industry here. This is the thinking behind the NTIFE 2019 event theme.”
The NTIFE 2019 event theme is “An insight into the legal framework of Tourism in Nigeria”.
Since inception, NTIFE had typically been an annual gathering of investors in Nigeria Tourism Industry. This NTIFE is endorsed by the Ministry of Information and Culture, with the Honourable Minister, Alhaji Lai Muhammed, scheduled to give a keynote address. More so, Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture, Alhaji Sani Nanono, who is also the Board Chairman of Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), is also slated to address NTIFE 2019 participants on November 19th 2019 – the first day of the event at Lagos/Osun Hall in Transcorp Hilton Hilton, Maitama Abuja.
Speaking further on the urgent need for a national tourism legislative framework, the FTAN President said, “you may recall that in 2013, the Supreme Court of Nigeria gave a landmark judgement, which clearly stated that Tourism, like Culture, is the statutory responsibility and can only be regulated by States governments; and not the Federal government. This is because Tourism matters comes under the Residual List of Nigeria’s 1999 constitution, as amended.”
The President of the Tourism Federation expressed the industry’s frustration at the lack of progress in the industry before 2013 and long after. He explained that Nigeria’s tourism industry has been like a rudderless ship, with the diverse tourism value-chain operators seemingly working in fiefdoms, without the much required coordination to grow the infantile tourism economy into a leading tourist destination that employs thousands of direct and indirect workers.
Alhaji saleh Rabo passionately clarified that, “We are not contesting the Supreme Court judgement on the matter; in fact we cannot, because the Supreme Court is the final court in Nigeria. But the operational reality of tourism is that States governments alone cannot successfully administer and regulate a sustainable tourism industry. So, you see, for Nigeria tourism to grow to the extent of generating foreign revenue with measurable economic multiplier-effects in rural areas, all hands must be on deck, literally.
For tourists to be able to come to Nigeria, they would necessarily first use the services of Federal government agencies and infrastructure including visa, transportation, and national security, among others, which come under the Exclusive List of our constitution. Furthermore, the tourist products (they are actually intangible services) that attract tourists to Nigeria are provided by the tourism private sector – most of whom are FTAN members.”
“Technically and economically, tourism is one of the most rewarding international services trade. Economic scientists have long proven that tourism is one of the guaranteed ways for countries international Balance of Payment, especially between first and third world countries, like Nigeria.”
“Consequently, for us in FTAN, the ultimate objective of NTIFE 2019 is to deeply crystallize views of the 2013 Supreme Court Judgement in the case between Lagos State Government and the Federal Government of Nigeria. And to re-examine the emerging tourism sectoral value-chain differences in the industry, with the view to multilaterally come out with an omnibus legal instrument of tourism administration and regulation in Nigeria via Nigeria National Assembly. Such a legislation should serve the needs of State governments, the Federal government and most importantly the private sector tourism operators.”
He clarified that FTAN only been proactive in midwiving a win-win nationally applicable tourism legislation for Nigeria. Alhaji Rabo justified the Federation concerted efforts by revealing that Nigeria is presently not on the list of top 10 tourist receiving countries in Africa.
The 2019 NTIFE is expected to be heralded by Federal government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), Commissioners of Tourism from State governments, travel and hospitality corporate organisations, including national and international tourism stakeholders and investors. Traditionally, attendance to NTIFE is open to tourism business operators, travel enthusiasts, tourism students and the general public, free of charge.
Moreover, NTIFE is arguably the best rendezvous to find and network with Nigerian tourism service providers, such as hotel brands and franchises, leading restaurateurs, established travel agents, inbound and outbound tour operators, tourism academia and travel research organisations.
At the time of this report, Emirates Airlines, Eko Hotel & Suites and Transcorp Hilton hotel have signed up as official event partners of NTIFE 2019.