Monthly Archives: April 2017

NTDC, NANTA Partner To Promote Domestic Tourism In Nigeria

The Director-General of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation [NTDC], Folorunsho Coker, has stressed the need to redefine the tourism sector, “a redefinition of what tourism is as an industry, as a site and as a channel through which we drive the increase in consumption of tourism assets in Nigeria”.

“Our initial focus is on domestic tourism, to make the best use of what we have and CONSUME MORE OF NIGERIA”, he said.

Coker said this while receiving an eight-man team of the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies [NANTA] which paid him a courtesy visit at the Corporation’s headquarters in Abuja on Tuesday.

The NTDC boss, who described the Corporation as a corporate member of NANTA expressed the readiness of the Corporation to be a worthy partner to NANTA in championing the course of tourism in Nigeria, and collaborate with the association on the area of statistics and data collection, to enable private investors know which state has potentials to explore and develop.

Coker asked that for a working partnership between the private and the public sector in the development and promotion of tourism in Nigeria. He added that public/private partnership will boost the tourism agenda of Nigeria.

The National President of NANTA, Bankole Bernard, earlier in his speech described the appointment of Folorunsho Coker as a blessing to the tourism sector, saying, “I am sure that the good work he did with the Lagos tourism would be replicated in the 36 states in Nigeria”.

Bernard expressed dissatisfaction about the manner in which the promotion of tourism is being managed in Nigeria, saying, “Tourism has not been well developed, promoted and packaged because the country had wholly depended and focused on the oil sector. Tourism is everything. We all have to embrace it and take it seriously”.

NANTA National President who called for a conscious investment in the promotion of domestic tourism in Nigeria, described the country as a potential tourism market, with a vibrant and dynamic business environment especially with the improved Nigerian’s image under the present administration.

Despite the aforementioned, the NTDC press release did not explain how, when and what to be done. From history, NANTA has not contributed anything significant to promote tourism apart from selling tickets on behalf of local and mostly internationally airlines.

Cross River Superhighway: ‘We’re Not Against It We Only Want The Needful To Be Done,’ Olory, Oyama

Contrary to media perspective, the Cross River National Park and the spearhead of Rainforest Development Centre [RDC] in Cross River have debunked reports that they were ever against the construction of the current Cross River Government’s flagship superhighway project.

The construction of the proposed 260-kilometre super highway is one of the two signature projects promised by Cross River Governor Ben Ayade at inception with the aim of providing an evacuation corridor for the state’s economic potentials since, as argued by Ayade neither the federal road nor the German bridge in Ikom made this possible.

To show its preparedness on the project, the state government embarked on bush clearing on the passage of the road, which has since overgrown with grass.

But this aspiration by the current administration had constantly been setback by petitions and its inability to meet federal government’s requirement, which includes conducting a proper environmental impact assessment [EIA], an aspect the state views as a conspiracy by certain parties aimed at truncating the progress of the project.

Both the Cross River national park speaking to our reporter through its deputy conservator of parks [DCP] in Cross River, DCP Caroline Olory and RDC’s executive director and frontline environmental activist, Odey Oyama said they were only requesting the needful to be done and were not out rightly against the project.

Olory held that the position of the national park had always been for the state government nursing the project to carry out a proper EIA of the project before commencement.

According to her “The superhighway is a development project, if the state government can do a proper EIA we have no problem”.

On his part, environmental activist Odey Oyama said he had never been against the project being that Cross River lacked good roads, but however maintained that the state government must follow section 46 of the Nigerian land use act and do the needful.

“I’m not against the superhighway because we don’t have good roads in the state,” the environmental activist said.

In addition, he added, the state government should also embark on exhaustive consultation of all the stakeholders affected by the construction of the road and giving them the opportunity to make useful contributions.

Oyama further posited that government must also properly file compensation to communities and persons affected by the passage of the superhighway.

[By OBAJI ABUNG-AKPET, Calabar]

Tourism Key For Economic Growth And Diversification In The MENA Region

Tourism can be a key driver of the growth and economic diversification for the Middle East and North Africa region concluded the 2017 Ministerial Forum organized by the World Tourism Organization [UNWTO] and the Arabian Travel Market [ATM] under the patronage of H.E. Eng. Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansoori, Minister of Economy of the United Arab Emirates. Yet, maximizing the power of the sector requires increased regional cooperation, prioritization of tourism in the national agendas and building resilience and sustainability [Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 24 April, 2017].

Moderated by CNN Becky Anderson, the UNWTO/ATM Ministerial Forum concluded that the main priorities for the region include human resources development, public/private sector cooperation, connectivity, technology and sustainability.

Issues on discussion included the development of domestic tourism by engaging repeat travellers, the support to innovation and entrepreneurship, the need to improve the quality and ‘perception’ of tourism employment, visa facilitation, intra-regional connectivity and the measurement of tourism’s impact through the recently launched UNWTO Initiative on Measuring Sustainable Tourism [MST].

Participants further recalled that much of the growth of the sector comes from the high level of support at policy level it receives from many countries in the region as a tool to diversify oil-based economies.

H.E. Mohammed Khamis Al Muhairi, Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Economy, UAE, said that tourism has proven to be one of the main pillars of economic and social development in various countries. He pointed out that the MENA region has strong potential to become one of the world’s leading tourist destinations due to its extensive tourism attractions.

He added that the region’s countries are at the threshold of a new phase of tourism growth which requires greater cooperation to ensure the maximization of opportunities offered by this sector.

He also noted the need to consolidate partnerships at the government and private levels to overcome obstacles to their efforts to enhance the competitiveness of their respective tourism sectors and make the most of tourism’s impact on their growth and development.

Mr Al Muhairi further stated that “tourism is a top priority under the development policies of the UAE, revealing that the sector contributes 12.1% to the national GDP and accounts for around 10.4% of the domestic labour market”.

“Investments to the sector exceeded AED 26 billion in 2016, a year which saw the number of visitors to the UAE reaching 24.8 million with total spend of about AED 110 billion”, he added

Commending the UNWTO/ ATM Ministerial Forum for providing an important platform for discussing the best ways to enhance the contributions of tourism to the development objectives of the UAE and other countries in the region he emphasized how the forum reflects the UAE’s keenness to support the global efforts to make tourism one of the pillars of sustainable development.

“Despite all external shocks, the Middle East and North Africa tell one of tourism’s biggest success stories. A story that brings an immense opportunity to make tourism a pillar of economic diversification, job creation and sustainable development in this region” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai.
“Today’s meeting is an opportunity to identify the priorities of tourism policy for the MENA destinations, strengthen regional cooperation and public-private partnerships that prepare the region to welcome the 195 million international tourist arrivals – almost triple the present volume of 72 million – forecasted by UNWTO for 2030. ” he added.

Simon Press, Senior Exhibition Director, ATM, said: “The Middle East is developing at an extraordinary pace as countries diversify from a dependence on hydrocarbon receipts. As such it is vital leaders in the region continue to find new ways of capitalising on tourism growth built on sustainability.

“The UNWTO & ATM Ministerial Forum provided an effective platform for stakeholders across the industry spectrum to identify the opportunities, as well as the challenges, that currently prevail throughout the region.”

The Middle East received 53.6 million international tourist arrivals in 2016. Arrivals decreased an estimated 4% with very mixed results among the region’s destinations. International tourist arrivals to North Africa grew by 3% to 18.6 million.

World Earth Day: “See Each Visitor As Economic Opportunity,” US Amb Urge Nigerians

The U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington has urged Nigerians from now on to see each visitor to Nigeria as economic opportunity to explore for the good of the nation’s national conservative potentials.

Symington, whom in his words was “wowed” by the natural ecological potentials Nigeria possess yet; abandons for oil deposit stated this at the Drill Ranch in Calabar, on Monday during a media parley as part of World Earth Day, which has as its theme “environmental and climate literacy.”

The ambassador’s attendance of the world earth day in Calabar was part of recognition that Cross River’s National Park is recognized by the UN as one of the world’s 25th biodiversity hotspots representing two thirds of Nigeria’s surviving tropical rainforest from over 9.6 million hectares of forest.

He reiterated the importance of human beings co-existing with their environment and the need for school children to be made to identify the unique potentials Nigeria has as part of efforts to protect the proceeds that mother earth offers.

Also speaking, Director of Technical Programme of Nigerian Conservation Foundation, Joseph Onoja reiterated the importance of Nigerians being proud of their national heritage while they see the need to preserve it.

Onoja urged Nigerians to come together and create awareness on the rich resources the country’s environment provides for them.

On her part, co-founder and director of the Drill Ranch in Calabar, Liza Gadsby urged Nigerians to stop being envious of developed countries like America and focus on the rich deposit the earth has provided for them.

“Be proud of where you are, be proud of where you come from; don’t look to America, don’t be jealous of anyone else. Make what you have part of your identity; it’s part of your heritage, not mine,” Gadsby urged.

Speaking also, wife of former Cross River Governor, Onari Duke encouraged people to always spread the message about the importance of conserving Nigeria’s vast ecological deposits.

The Deputy Conservator of Cross River National Park, Caroline Olory said the theme for this year’s world earth day which ‘environmental and climate literacy’ goes a long way to help Nigerians to better appreciate “the powerful treasure God has given us.”

[By OBAJI ABUNG-AKPET, Calabar]

UNWTO Election: AU Urges Africa To Vote As One

The African Union Commission Deputy Chairperson H.E Kwesi Quartey has urged Africa to practically demonstrate its unity by putting its support behind the candidates endorsed for positions within the international system. He called on Africa to vote as one united bloc to increase its chances of winning.

Quartey was speaking in Addis Ababa on the 19th of April at a dinner hosted by the Embassy of the Republic of Zimbabwe in honour of the AU endorsed candidate for the post of Secretary General of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, Dr Walter Mzembi. He added “we must win this for the first time”.

Dr Mzembi was in the Ethiopian capital to attend the 59th meeting of the UNWTO’s Commission for Africa, of which he was chair.

Speaking on behalf of the AU Commission Chairperson H.E Moussa Faki Mahamat, Quartey congratulated Dr Mzembi for the unanimous endorsement he received from the heads of state and government of the then 54 member states of the AU.

He also stated that the African Union acknowledged tourism as an effective vehicle for sustainable development, key in the building of deeper understanding between peoples and cultures and for the reinforcement of the quest for greater global harmony and peace.

The outgoing Secretary General of the UNWTO Taleb Rifai also spoke at the dinner. “You have already won”, he said, with reference to the work Dr Mzembi has done to uplift the image of his own country and for putting African tourism at the fore.

He added that Dr Mzembi had successfully co-organized “one of the best attended” general assemblies of the UNWTO in 2013, when Zimbabwe co-hosted the organisation’s 20th session with Zambia.

Meanwhile, Ethiopian Minister of Tourism and Culture Honourable Hirut Woldemariam wished the candidate all the best in the elections to be held from 11 to 12 May this year in Madrid, Spain. If Dr Mzembi wins, he will become the first African to lead the UN body.

Previous secretaries general have been from France, Australia, and Mexico. The outgoing Secretary General, Rifai is from Jordan.

In his own address, Dr Mzembi reiterated the call for unity among African countries in the vote, noting that Africa’s concept of candidature committees at sub regional and cross continental levels, through which he was endorsed, had “secured an African, Dr Gilbert Fassoun Houngbo, former prime minister of Togo, the key post of Director General of the International Fund for Agricultural Development [IFAD].”

Africa has two other candidates who have been endorsed by the Assembly of the AU for different posts, i.e. Dr. Mousshira Khatab of Egypt and Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of Ethiopia who are contesting for the top posts at the UN Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation [UNESCO] and the World Health Organisation [WHO] respectively.

The Secretary General of the UNWTO is voted for by an electoral college of 33 member states. It is the council that comes up with a single candidate to recommend to the body’s general assembly.

The Addis Ababa dinner was attended by African Ministers in charge of tourism, who were attending the 59th meeting of the UNWTO’s Commission for Africa. African and other ambassadors based in Addis Ababa and other members of the diplomatic corps also attended the event.