Stakeholders comprising some organised tourism private sector associations have reacted angrily to the recent announcement by minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed that the Federal Government will go into a tripartite partnership with the CNN and the United Nations World Tourism Organisation [UNWTO] to boost the Creative Industry in Nigeria, using the film industry as a pivot.
First to react was Ikechi Uko, Chief Executive Officer, Akwaaba Travel Market, West Africa biggest annual travel and tourism exhibition, who said “I am surprised that the ministry can be having a discussion with the UNWTO without the organised tourism private sector inputs; considering the private sector experience in dealing with the UN agency, especially on the Tourism Master Plan that has never worked”.
Also speaking from his base in Kaduna, Malan Kabir, President, Association of Tourism Practitioners of Nigeria [ATPN], said that the government does not properly understand what tourism is all about and much more how to make it work.
“From the ways and manner the tourism private sector has been treated in the past, suggests to me that past leaderships of the organised tourism private sector failed to explain to the government on how this industry can work, or perhaps were only interacting with the public sector for their personal benefits.
“In fact there is no continuity, because the minster would have learnt from trends,” he noted.
Kabir concluded by saying that, every minister or director general would always want to start his or her stuff and at the end, nothing is achieved.
On his part, Vincent Ugbor, President, Hotel and Personal Services Employers Association of Nigeria [HOPESEA], said it’s a big shame for the organised tourism private sector not to be carried along, Ugbor therefore, suggested that a protest letter should be sent to the minister and possibly to the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo.
Lanre Owoseyin, President, Nigeria Hotel Association [NHA] taking a swipe on the past leaders of the Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria [FTAN], umbrella body of the private sector, blamed them for the dis-respectfulness from government and its agencies.
Owoseyin noted that apart from this current issue, the ministry had in the past too, rubbished the sector for bringing on board just one technocrat on the technical committee of the abandoned Tourism Master Plan Committee, a critical policy that if well-articulated could lay a good foundation for the sector.
“Once again, the minister has been ill advised by choosing Creative Industry and Nollywood shenanigans that his predecessor touted with and never worked”, he said.
Owoseyin lamented that, what would Nigeria be selling or promoting through CNN, is it the pot holes on our roads, permanent darkness across the country or the undeveloped attractions; like Obudu and Tinapa that have all been abandoned, he asked.
Nkereuwem Onung, President, National Association of Tour Operators [NATOP], speaking on behalf of his association said the Ministry and Minister are of the thinking that when they mention names like Cable Network News [CNN] and United Nations World Tourism Organisation [UNWTO], the tourism private sector will be carried away.
He stated further that it is impossible to achieve result in any sector of the economy, much more a service industry like tourism without the involvement of the private sector operators.
“Without the tourism practitioners, the efforts will come to nothing” Onung concluded.
Bankole, Bernard, President, National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies [NANTA], said he was not aware and that it would be wrong if that is the case.
Bernard said if the country is to embark on self-promotion internationally; using the Creative Industry, Culture and Nollywood as the ministry is set to do, such can still be done with inputs from the tourism private sector.
On his part, Rabo Saleh, President, Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria [FTAN], umbrella body for tourism private sector in Nigeria said that government cannot drive tourism without the private sector.
According to him, the private sector is the main driver of the industry, whilst government takes care of policies and provide enabling environment for tourism to flourish.
He however said that it’s not too late to bring the private sector into the discussion now to avoid mistakes of the past.
The minister had announced the partnership in Lagos on Monday July 10, at the Creative Industry Roundtable, saying that the film industry will be used ”as a lens through which the country would project various aspects of the Nigerian Culture, Tourism and similar areas”.
”We are kick-starting the project with a 13-episode production showcasing the various stages in a movie production. These include the choice of location, which will allow us to showcase the various beautiful sceneries available in Nigeria; the choice of wardrobe that will show the rich options in the country’s fashion industry; the choice of sound track that will highlight our rich music genres; the casting that will showcase our abundant talents and the technical part that will provide the platform to show that there is no camera and other gadgets that we don’t have here.
”As part of the project, we will also run a programme on CNN showcasing the 20 Nigerians to watch in the Industry. The Nigerians to be showcased will be selected by the industry players themselves to ensure authenticity,” the Minister said.
The minister also said that the tripartite partnership, as well as the MoUs with the Tony Elumelu Foundation, the Bank of Industry [BoI] and the British Council, were part of the efforts by the Federal Government to transform the Creative Industry to a Creative Economy.
According to him, “Government has no doubt that the plan to transform the Creative Industry to a Creative Economy must be driven by the private sector”.
Mohammed said deliberations from the Roundtable would feed into a larger event, the Creative Industry Financing Conference, slated for July17-18, at the Eko Hotel in Lagos and would be declared opened by Acting President Osinbajo.