Onung Nkereuwem is the Managing Director of REMLORDS GROUP, owners of Remlords Tours and Car Hire. Besides, he’s also the National President of Nigeria Association of Tour Operators [NATOP] and first Deputy President, Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria [FTAN], the private sector umbrella body for tourism in Nigeria.
In this interview with African Travel Times team, he succinctly in a brief response bares his mind on issues crucial to the sector development.
What was it like the first time joining the travel and tourism industry?
My time in the industry was heralded by God who gave me the business and the name; REMLORDS Tours and Car Hire Services.
At the beginning I did not understand that the tours was deeper in content than the Car Hire. They now complement each other.
Where was your first point in the industry politics?
My engagement in politics evolved naturally.I needed to register with the relevant tourism association.
My interest in the Association quickly paved way for me to become a deputy president when the then president, Tunde Arogunmati resigned.
How much information did you have about the sector before you came in fully?
I sincerely studied so much about the sector, that when Gov. Duke commissioned REMLORDS, I was amazed at how much I had learnt.
This made it easy to identify Mr. Ikechi Uko of ATQ when I heard him speak during a tour of Calabar.
What was your first assignment when you came into the industry?
My first assignment was travel to many attractions.This pushed me to attend all known Trade shows like World Travel Market [WTM], London, International Travel Exchange [ITB Berlin], Arabian Travel Market [ATM] and FITUR Exhibition in Spain among others.
Presently, we should be doing more in West African states and then zeroed into Nigeria.
I am of the view that one cannot effectively market a product that has not been tested.
No doubt, Nigeria is a business destination of which your organisation profits from, how can Nigeria tap into the leisure industry to increase volume?
Nigeria has done well as a business destination and until we begin to appreciate leisure tourism, Tour operators will continue to do outbound travel and tourism.
This is why ‘domestic tourism ‘ should not be a fancy word in the mouth of practitioners.
Let us develop our assets, fix our roads, build infrastructure among others.
With coordinated efforts, what the younger CEOs in Tourism are doing with social media will enhance leisure tourism
How would you rate general tourism activities in the country?
Tourism activities is very low. Again, poor perception and poor funding remain major challenges.
You have been in politics of the sector for years now, would you say you achieved your purpose or some purposes that motivated you joining initially?
Well, you call it politics. For me, it is about adding value to what people do. If the richest tour operators do outbound tourism, and domestic tourism is plagued with so many limitations, it is difficult to operate.
National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism [NIHOTOUR] and Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation [NTDC], bills were recently passed by the senate and left with the House of Representative, what is your opinion of the quality of the bills?
These bills are not meant for us but for politicians.Implementation will create more confusion.
Private sector contributions are completely ignored as if the current players will be there forever.
I believe the state governments will be waiting to see how some part of the bill will be implemented.
How would you rate Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria [FTAN]?
FTAN can do better.
How would you rate the minister, National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism [NIHOTOUR] and Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation [NTDC], bosses’ performance so far?
The minister is too busy with Information and Politics. National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism [NIHOTOUR] and Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation [NTDC], bosses, let them fulfil the core mandate of these institutions.
Change perception, promote leisure and build infrastructure.