In commemoration of World Tourism Day, September 27, Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation, NTDC, says there is need to review the laws governing the practice of tourism in the country.
Mr Folorunsho Coker, the Director-General of NTDC, in a statement on Tuesday in Abuja enjoined Nigerians to learn to celebrate what the country was blessed with.
According to Coker, the desire to change the NTDC bill is to ensure international best practices in the nation’s tourism industry.
The 2017 NTDC Bill, as against the Extant Act, will open up avenues of collaboration with different stakeholders hoping to enter into partnership in order to promote the industry.
“However, we don’t have the ideal model to have a functional tourism framework to compare with some of the countries around the world, but what we have is good.
“If we compare Nigeria, especially with regards to cultural destination, heritage and tourism to other countries, it is obvious that we are very wealthy when it comes to that.
“And when you talk of security, there is no country on earth that does not have a security issue. Every country has an element of crime and they are dealing with it,’’ Coker said.
The NTDC boss, however, said that the rate of crime had drastically reduced in the country.
He said that countries like France, Israel and UK, among others, had suffered serious terrorist attacks, but people still go there.
“So, why are we so quick to say the negative things about our wonderful country and her assets? We should also be quick to celebrate what we have.’’
According to him, our destinations and cultural tourism assets have not been in the focus of our investment drives in the past both from the private and the public sector, hence, those things have suffered.
“But now, we are drawing attention to them, encouraging people to invest in these huge tourism assets.’’
While describing Nigeria as a labyrinth of enviable tourism assets and potentials, the NTDC boss said that Nigeria had been fortunate to develop new forms of cultural exchange recently.
“Like our music, which is huge around the world; our Nollywood is number two in the world.
“Our fashion is simply superb with our fashion designers competing at international level; our food, our religion enjoy good attention globally,’’ he said.
On domestic tourism, Coker described it as the only form of sustainable tourism that was shock resistant to terrorist attack and foreign exchange depreciation.
He described domestic tourism as the foundation on which the international tourism could land safely in terms of values for money, quality for service, maturity of both our destinations and institutions.
Revealing his plans to ensure rapid growth of domestic tourism in Nigeria, Coker said, his administration had created a sub-brand, ‘Tour Nigeria’.
“It is a five-point action plan aim at promotion of domestic tourism and encourages ease of doing business in the country.’’
The plan according to him seeks to introduce global best practices for the tourism industry, encourage human capital and infrastructure development as well as aims to promote and protect Nigeria’s cultural heritage.
On tourism and media, Coker stressed that the relationship between tourism and the media was a special one, adding that tourism could not be sold by keeping quiet.
“If I don’t enlighten the people on what they need to know about the importance of tourism, the industry will not be on the front burner.
“I will not stop pushing hard until the country begins to make good revenue through the industry,’’ he said.
On the election of the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed as the Vice President of United Nation World Tourism Oreganisation, UNWTO, Coker said that NTDC would be the greatest beneficiary of the election.
“The minister is a tenacious hardworking-driven person, and I am sure it is the recognition of his outstanding personal qualities, commitment to the growth of the industry and drive that earn him the position.
“Again, the fact that the 2018 UNWTO General Assembly will hold in Nigeria is a great privilege for us.
“The experience of Nigeria by such a high level delegates would make the tourism ministers across the globe our cultural ambassadors.
“Bringing them to Nigeria would serve a great purpose: it would give us a fair hearing and reverse all the unfair constant negative conversations about Nigeria,” Coker said.
NAN reports that this year edition of the World Tourism Day will be celebrated in Doha, Qatar, on Wednesday, Sept. 27 with the theme: “Sustainable Tourism – a Tool for Development.”
The day presents unique opportunity to raise awareness on the contributions of sustainable tourism to development among public and private sector decision-makers and the international community.
It is also a day to mobilise stakeholders to work together to make tourism a catalyst for positive change.