Tourism stakeholders in Nigeria have charged the Federal Government to, as a matter of urgency, establish a legal framework for tourism.
This is just as they called for the creation of a dedicated ministry for Tourism, which, according to them, should be managed by tourism professionals to boost the revenue diversification drive of government via tourism.
The stakeholders made the suggestion in a communiqué issued at the end of a virtual meeting, organised by two of the leading travel organizations, the Association of Nigerian Journalists and Writers of Tourism (ANJET) and Nigeria Travel Week, and attended by a cross-section of stakeholders from the different sections of tourism, including the tourism media tour operators, travel agents, hoteliers and tour guides as well as officials from the government such as the Director-General of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Folorunsho Folarin-Coker, a communiqué stating some of the recommendations and observations made was issued.
It is of note that the impact of the ravaging Coronavirus (COVID-19), on the global economy, and the tourism sector said to be the hardest hit, has continued to generate a lot of interest across the global by the different operators in tourism and in Nigeria.
Participants in the virtual conference observed that lack of a legal framework for tourism in Nigeria is a problem hampering the growth of tourism in Nigeria.
According to them, it erodes the confidence of investors and breeds discontinuity of policies and projects to grow tourism; airlines do not have enough content of the tourism attractions of Nigeria in their in-flight magazines.
The stakeholders also emphasised that steps should be taken to start the chronological implementation of the Nigeria Tourism Masterplan.
They noted that government has not taken serious actions to implement the Nigeria Tourism Masterplan developed by the defunct federal Ministry of Culture and Tourism, with technical assistance from the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) in 2006.
They submitted that: “A special tourism fund should be created for the peculiar needs of the tourism, industry domiciled in the Development Bank of Nigeria. Tour operators should communicate their domestic tour packages to travel agents to enable them to sell destination Nigeria to Nigerians; Tour operators should introduce special pricing incentives for Nigerians just like other countries where you have different rates for locals and foreigners.
“We need to add value to our tourism assets including our cultural festivals, ecotourism and historical attractions to start earning revenue; All sectors of the tourism industry should be retrospective about their strategies for collaboration with other sectors to promote domestic tourism.
“Federal and state governments should embark on massive sensitisation and marketing drives to create awareness about domestic tourism and change the false perception of Nigeria as an unsafe destination; Tourism stakeholders should always be carried along with new plans and policies of government to capture the ground realities and accelerate the growth of the tourism industry.
“Nigerians in Diaspora should be engaged to promote and drive tourism including key festivals and historical tourist sites; Key state and federal institutions should partner to create self – development (not study curriculum) programmes for workers within the sector.
“We need to engage local and international airline operators to do more to promote domestic tourism; and We must design a dedicated marketing, promotion and image campaign plan for the nation on tourism.”