Aliyu Badaki, is the Chief Executive Officer/Managing Director of Blissy Hospitality Services Limited and Vice President, Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria [FTAN], Federal Capital Territory [FCT] and Member of African Travel Times Magazine’s Editorial Advisory Board, in this interview with Lucky Onoriode George, Publisher/Editor of the magazine bares his mind on several issues affecting the smooth running and growth of the tourism sector in Nigeria.
Tourism is almost at a standstill in Nigeria, what should the government do to revive the industry?
There should be a deliberate effort by the government to belief in tourism and its importance to the socio-economic of the country.
The issue of a separate ministry is crucial because the negative effects of lack of attention by successive ministers is killing the sector, what do you think can be done to have a full ministry for the sector?
The best way to have a full ministry dependent of the people at the helm of affairs of tourism is to defend and/or convince the authority in charge of merging the ministries.
What is the state of the tourism industry?
Tourism industry is still evolving, full of several problems ranging from: Poor planning, infrastructural decay, poor approach to recreation and holidaying, security challenge among others.
Who is to blame for the lull in the sector?
Both the private and public sectors are to be blamed for the lull in tourism sector. Government is to provide enabling environment through provision of basic infrastructure; affordable financial support and expected regulations, while the private sectors are to drive and manage the activities in tourism through investment, marketing and operation.
The Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria [FTAN], umbrella body for the tourism private sector has not been very proactive, how can the federation be more functional and play a more relevant role?
The various associations have been playing different roles based on their core mandate in areas of hospitality, manpower, development travels, tour, journalism etc. in promoting tourism.
What has been the role of the various associations?
The best way to overcome the problems is to be well funded in area of project development by the government. Also to have qualified leadership that will be creative and understand the mandate at which they were established.
The Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation [NTDC] and the National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism Study [NIHOTOUR] have both been struggling over the years due to poor funding, how can they overcome the problem?
For instance NTDC should be able to carry out deliberate programmes in marketing/organising various tourism destructions and events within and outside Nigeria, which is to be backed up with strong legislations based on the mandate in establishing the corporation.
Without any doubt, NIHOTOUR should have proper and befitting training centres that could be used for manpower development in hospitality and tourism sector, which will also enable the institute to generate more revenue. Strong legislation would also strengthen its activities.
Tourism infrastructures are in the states, what should they be doing?
The various states should partner with the private sector in the development and management of such infrastructures.
What does Nigeria actually have as to sell abroad?
Cultural artifacts and various unique features at the various destinations if well packaged will be a top sell abroad.
Cost is a major factor when it comes to marketing a destination, how do we make Nigeria more competitive in West Africa?
The best way to make Nigeria more competitive in West Africa is in the area of cost, when it comes to marketing a destination, Nigeria has to have an effective tourism calendar that will enable tourists to plan ahead; affordable well equipped hotels and at various government levels the issue of multiple taxation should be addressed.
Lack of adequate electricity supply has lead to increase in the cost of buying of diesel, maintenance of generator among many challenges to mention.
General high cost of maintaining hotels gave rise to high tariff, poor maintenance culture, lack of basic facilities in most destinations; unless some of these are addressed, marketing destinations in Nigeria may not be competitive in West Africa.
The issue of a national carrier comes to mind when marketing Nigeria as a destination is being mentioned, how soon do you think we need one?
The importance of national carrier in marketing a destination like Nigeria cannot be over emphasized. This needs an urgent attention in giving Nigeria an identity, recognition and also provides a multiplier effect to the income.
Just imagine destinations with national carrier what they are benefiting in areas of patronage, employment and ease in conveying potential tourists to other destinations from their various countries.
How would you rate the hospitality industry today in the country?
Hospitality industry presently is growing but still faced with lots of challenges ranging from lack of proper understanding of what the industry entail by the investors.
Instead of operating it as a hospitality outfit, it is mainly operated as a trading outfit which potential guests are unable to derive maximum satisfaction expected.
Registration, classification and grading of tourism and hospitality most especially, have been ceded to the states following the Supreme Court’s Judgment, how do we ensure standards across the country?
The best way to ensure standards in areas of Registration, Classification and Grading of Tourism and Hospitality across the country is to have a uniform standard as it is being presently designed by the Mirror Committee on standards in collaboration with standard Organisation of Nigeria [SON].
This must be accepted and implemented according to the design and capacity of different states which has the right/power to do so.
Insecurity has been a major challenge to tourism in this country in the last 10 years, has anything changed?
In the area of insecurity as a challenge to tourism in the country [Nigeria]; it depends on the angle at which we are viewing it. Insecurity is all over the world but tourism, still strife especially in African countries like South Africa, Egypt, Kenya and even European countries.
So, it depends on how the media manage information in areas where insecurity are prevalent and areas that are secured.
What is the way forward for the entire tourism industry?
The ways forward, is for the Federal Government to belief in the sector and create a stand-alone ministry, as well as providing necessary enabling environment for the private sector to be fully involved in the management and promotion of various tourism activities.