With ongoing efforts by the Federal Ministry of Culture, Tourism and National Orientation towards harnessing the abundant opportunities in the sector, Nigeria will, in the shortest time, join the League of Nations reaping the inexhaustible benefits of the tourism and hospitality sector.

Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Culture, Tourism and National Orientation, Mrs. Nkechi Ejele made this known at the opening ceremony of the 1st Tourism Expo for the Hospitality Industry held recently at Nanet Suites and Hotels, Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.

According to Ejele, who was represented by the Director of National Orientation in the Ministry, Mrs. Gloria Abumeri, there is urgent the need to diversify the nation’s economy especially in areas that are more sustainable and enduring, considering the recent discovery of oil in many countries and the challenges in the local economy.

Her words: “The Nigerian tourism industry and the hospitality sub-sector have the potential to contribute significantly to the country’s socio-economic development. This underscores the Ministry’s desire to partner with strategic stakeholders in the industry with a view to harnessing the abundant opportunities that abound in the sector and ensure that tourism and hospitality make the expected contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and create the necessary wealth to alleviate poverty, generate employment and attract local and foreign earnings.”

Speaking in a similar vein, the President, Lagos Chapter of the Federation of Tourism Association of Nigeria (FTAN), Ayodele Michael Olumoko, Esq. said with the enthusiastic crowd at Nigerian festivals, such as, Osun Osogbo, Argungun, Lagos, Calabar, and Rivers State Carnivals, just to mention a few, one can be assured that Nigerians will gladly embrace the patronage of local content when assured of maximum value.

“Nigeria is blessed with beautiful scenery, a large number of destination sites and generally, Nigerians are quite accommodating. With patronage of these treasure troves of culture and places to explore, the domestic tourists would also lean towards getting maximum enjoyment in the hospitality industry. It is in the success of these festivals or carnivals that the hospitality industry can get its boost;” she said.

Expressing optimism that the hospitality industry in Nigeria could benefit immensely from domestic tourism drive, Olumoko said if festivals like Osun Osogbo can achieve success by attracting Nigerians from several parts of the country as well as the Diaspora, then it stands to reason that the hospitality industry should benefit from the many cultural festivals that abound in the country, which, he maintained, can only be achieved when there are sincere efforts to promote them as against labelling them as fetish and superstitious in the face of the dominant prevailing religions that the country practices.

While calling on government to be proactive in creating subventions for community festivals, Olumoko regretted that the promotion of many destination sites and cultural festivals in Nigeria were barely non-existent as a result of dearth of funds and therefore called for an open door policy that allows Committees of cultural festivals to have access to sound consulting by government agencies who have been empowered to promote domestic tourism in the country.

Dignitaries at the event included the Executive Secretary of the National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Dr. Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma, Director-General of National Institute for Hospitality for Tourism (NIHOTOUR), Mrs. Chika Balogun, Director of  International Cultural Relations in the Ministry, Mr. George Ufot, President Hotel Owners Forum Association (HOFA) and  Managing Director/CEO Nanet Hotels and Suites, Engr. Enomfon Ekon, the Chairman of Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN), Lagos State Chapter, Chief Ayodele Olumoko, Director-General, Bayelsa State Tourism Development Agency, Mrs. Ebizi Ndiomu-Brown, and the Director of Domestic Tourism in the Ministry, Dr. Paul Adalikwu (the host of the workshop), among others.

Caleb Nor

Corporate Affairs Unit

NICO, Abuja