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23rd June, 2014.
President, Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN), Chief Tomi Akingbogun during his presentation at the Nigeria Tourism Investors Forum & Exhibition (NTIFE 2014) at Sheraton Hotel Abuja.

FTAN, FCTA inspires tourism stakeholders at NTIFE 2014

by Omololu Olumuyiwa

The Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN) formed to provide leadership, direction and control for private sector in the travel, hospitality and allied services in conjunction with Federal capital Territory Administration (FCTA) successfully held the second edition of Nigeria Tourism Investors Forum & Exhibitions (NTIFE 2014) at Ladi Kwali Hall, Sheraton Hotel, Abuja on June 10 - 11, 2014.

In his welcome address, FTAN President, Chief Tomi Akingbogun disclosed that the annual NTIFE in collaboration with FCTA started in 2013 as a forum to meet the growing need for the common voice of the numerous tourism investors in Nigeria.

Akingbogun said, "FTAN is willing to work with all arms of government that are ready for real development of tourism. We hereby want to call on all arms of governments to invest in several opportunities provided by Nigeria".

The FTAN boss stated further that NTIFE primary objectives are to promote the local tourism destination, highlight tourism potentials in different zones of Nigeria, showcase the tourism and hospitality products available in the country.

Mr Akingbogun also identifies security, multiple taxes, lack of infrastructures, poor patronage from the government, high level of poverty, economically unrealistic bill and taxes, delay in passage of budget, among others as factors that hinders tourism growth in Nigeria and solicit for government assistance over the highlighted points.

The Director-General, Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Mrs. Sally Mbanefo in her paper presentation with the topic: "Promoting Domestic Tourism: Tool for National Economic Development" said "Domestic tourism is the type of tourism where people vacate within their own country. It is one of the three categories of tourism with the others being inbound and outbound tourism.

"Historically speaking, it is in fact the first form of tourism that was practised and today it continues to account for the most part of this activity by far: it is estimated that out of the 4.8 billion tourist arrivals per year [2008 figure], 4 billion, or 83%, correspond to domestic tourism. Likewise, the UNWTO's economists' estimate that at the global level, domestic tourism represents", Mbanefo said.

The NTDC boss disclosed further, "One of the main focuses of our current efforts at NTDC is on domestic tourism which encourages Nigerians to celebrate our values, our tourist attractions and cultural heritage as the cornerstone for building a sustainable tourism industry that can attract investment.

Mbanefo said, "Most importantly, the NTDC is reaching out to states in view of the 2013 Supreme Court Judgment that has ceded a critical aspect of the tourism industry to the states for standard and uniformity sake".

She stated further, "Nigeria must put in place mechanism through which benefits can be derived from all departures. The NTDC is coming up with a recommendation to government on how domestic tourism can benefit from this.

We must develop domestic tourism, not just for paid travellers alone, but leisure infrastructure in our various communities for citizens who cannot afford to travel".

The Minister of State for FCT, Oloye Jumoke Akinjide represented by the Director of Tourism in the FCTA, Mrs Adebola Elegbede in her speech said, "The strategic importance of tourism sector is reflected not only in the President Goodluck Jonathan transformation agenda, and the drive to diversify the revenue base of the economy, but also in the FCT's economic development strategy for the capital city, in fact the recently launched Nigeria Industrial Revolution plan identified tourism as one of the key priority sector."

The minister in her speech further identified the multiplicity of taxations, multiplicity of departments regulatory and enforcement agencies and other problems facing the sector.

"The FCT administration have ordered a set up of multi-agency committee in partnership with the private sectors and other stakeholders to explore ways of harmonising and integrating all levies, charges, and taxes and to come up with investors-friendly recommendations which may include initiating challenges through appropriate legal process to bring about a desirable work", said the minister.

At the forum, the participants have the opportunities to visit the exhibitions stands to network with the government and private organizations showcasing their various products and services as related to the travel, tourism and hospitality sector.

Among the exhibitors are National Institute for Hospitality & Tourism (NIHOTOUR), Hotels Owners Forum Abuja (HOFA), Waka-About, INFOGEM, Rivers State Tourism Development Agency, Ethiopian Airlines and Owambe.com.

Some of the notable dignitaries who attended the two-day forum are the Director-General, National Institute for Hospitality & Tourism (NIHOTOUR), Dr. Munzali Dantata, Chairman, Rivers State Tourism Development Agency (RSTDA), Dcn. Vincent Erinwo, Director of Domestic Tourism, Federal Ministry of Culture, Tourism and National Orientation, Dr. Paul Adaliku and CEO, INFOGEM Limited, Mr. Ayo Olumoko.

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