Tourism Can Change Nigeria Faster Than Oil – FTAN

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President, FTAN,Chief Tomi Akingbogun
President, FTAN,Chief Tomi Akingbogun

By Chief Tomi AkingbogunThe Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN) is the umbrella body for travel and tourism associations in Nigeria. Established to provide leadership, direction and control for Private Sector in Travel, Tourism and allied Services.
Tourism has become one of the major players in ‎international commerce, and represents the main income ‎source for many developed and developing countries. United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) stated that the business volume of tourism surpasses that of oil exports, ‎food products or automobiles.
Despite the global recession, it is notable that Travel and Tourism industry has continued to grow over the years. International tourist arrivals reached a record $1.14 billion in 2014, that is $51 million dollars more than in 2013. The Tourism industry provides 266 million jobs, directly and indirectly. This means that the Tourism industry now provides about 10% of jobs Nigeria’s strong relative economic position in Africa is highly unsustainable due to its dependency on oil; as recent fall in demand of oil has affected revenue. That Nigeria needs urgent diversification cannot be overemphasized and tourism has been identified as the main sustainable and achievable option.
The Nigerian travel and tourism industry cuts across many subsectors in the economy: Travel agencies, Tour operations, Restaurants, Hotels, Airlines, Land and Water transport, Arts and craft, Entertainment amongst others
(i) UTILITIES: In recent years, the tourism sector is faced with lack of enabling environment due to near collapsed of all public utilities such as electricity, water supply, rail transport and the absence of good roads across the country, these have made domestic tourism almost extinct.
(ii) SECURITY: Insecurity has damaged tourism activities and businesses have collapsed not just in areas of conflicts, but the incessant travel advisory by foreign governments has taken a great toll on conferences and seminars that would have hitherto been held in Nigeria. Making matters worse for the investors in tourism was the Ebola outbreak which affected domestic and international tourism.
(iii) LACK OF NATIONAL AIRLINE CARRIER: There is lack of investment by government in key travel and tourism projects. It is still unthinkable that with almost 170 million people, Nigeria still rely on foreign airlines to service its international routes, a situation that has made a visit to Nigeria very expensive and globally uncompetitive.
(iv) TAXES And COMPLEX TAX PAYMENTS METHODS: Multiplicity of taxes by various levels of governments and agencies coupled with complexity of payment methods are major impediments of the industry. Nigeria has been tagged as one of the most difficult country in the world in tax payment process and recently Nigeria was ranked 131 position in the Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index Ranking 2015 (TTCIR).
(v) NEGLECT OF TOURISM ATTRACTIONS: Tourism attractions are budgeted for annually yet there is no obvious improvement:
* Museums are inadequate and, where available, poorly managed with many valuable artefacts stolen and replaced with fake copies.
*National Parks, zoological & Botanical gardens are non-existent, where available, abused or abandoned.
* Sport Tourism is non-existent with all our stadia lying fallow and in state of disrepair.
(vi) POOR MARKETING OF NIGERIA: Nigerian tourism products such as culture and its related products – festivals and heritage sites, wildlife, beaches, recreational and conference products – are poorly marketed. Some countries that have been in continuous conflicts have been rated better than Nigeria at the TTCIR rating due to better marketing by their government agencies.
(vii) NIGERIAN TOURISM ACT: The current Tourism Act which gave power to various states of the federation to register, grade and classify tourism establishments in their various states is an impediment to tourism growth. At this level of our development, most states across the country lack the capacity and the resources to do what they have now been asked to do, following the outcome of July 23, 2013 Supreme Court judgment, which gave states exclusive powers to tourism administration and control. There is need for the new National Assembly to revisit the Nigeria Tourism Acts.
(vii) NIGERIAN TOURISM MASTER PLAN: Non-implementation of Nigeria Tourism Master plan, means there is no vision to drive the tourism industry.
We call for:
1. Presidential Council on Tourism (PCT): The new government, as a matter of urgency, should reinstate the Presidential Council on Tourism (PCT) to give leadership and direction for the sector.
2. Public Private Partnership (PPP): The Ministry at present does not work with private sector players who are the real investors. Hence many programmes are drawn and executed at ministerial level resulting in policies and programme failures; for example: Abuja Carnival, Argungu Fishing Festival etc. We hereby call for a strong PPP on tourism events, policy formulation and Boards appointment. Tourism attractions and destinations should be made accessible and affordable for effective PPP.
3. Government Appointments: We ask for appointment of competent tourism related professionals with proven integrity and performance as Minister, Director Generals and Chairmen of parastatals under the Federal Ministry of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation.
4. Implementation of the Master Plan: We ask for full implementation of the abandoned Nigerian Tourism Master Plan and NEPAD Tourism Action Plan.
5. Intervention Fund: We hereby call for the creation of intervention funds for tourism industry (Tourism Development Fund) which will go a long way in ensuring availability of long term funds for long term investments of tourism at an affordable interest rate. Many sectors of the Nigerian economy received one palliative or the other from government in the last four years, but why tourism was excluded remains a major worry for local and international investors in the sector.
6. Multiple Taxation: In addressing the multiplicity of taxes, we ask that many of the taxes payable be merged and introduction of a simplified tax payment system.
7. Stakeholders meetings: We call for a biannual stakeholders meeting where the problems of regulator (government agencies) and investors will be solved together.

8. Lack of Infrastructure: The high cost of infrastructural facilities in the country should be addressed as Nigerian tourism products and destinations are not globally competitively priced. This can be achieved by allocating special areas of land for tourism development with other incentives. The total collapse of electricity supply and the price, should be investigated and reversed as no economy can survive up to 94% electricity tariff increase in a year, more so, when the laid down rules were not followed.
9. Funding of Tourism Ministry: Proper funding of the Ministry and its Parastatals is very crucial. These parastatals have lost the ability to influence any meaningful development or direction for the tourism industry including development of the needed manpower for the sector from our ever increasing youth population.
10. Ministry Administration: In-house politicking results in personality clashes and breakdown of smooth administration. This needs to be corrected by the new administration.
11. Education: Tourism and National Orientation should be included in school curriculum.
12. Government Patronage: There is need for Government to discourage the too frequent government officials’ overseas travels for trainings and seminars that should have taken place in Nigeria. As continuous non patronage of Nigerian investments is counterproductive to the nation’s GDP apart from depletion of our currency reserve. The Federation is ready to participate in any programme, event, forum or committee where the future of Nigeria vis a vis tourism is to be discussed.

FTAN Ingredients For Change In Tourism Industry

*Establishment of Presidential Council on Tourism (PCT)
*Need for Public Private Partnership (PPP) in the industry
*Appointment of competent tourism professionals with proven integrity into government posts
*Implementation of the Nigerian Tourism Master Plan and NEPAD Tourism Action Plan
*Addressing high cost of infrastructural facilities in the country
*Proper funding of tourism ministry and its parastatals
*Checks must be placed on In-house politicking at tourism ministry and agencies
*Put tourism and national orientation in school curriculum
*Government must discourage officials’ overseas travels for trainings and seminars that can be held in Nigeria.

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