The Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN) held her annual Nigeria Tourism Investors Forum and Exhibition (NTIFE) on November 21st and 22nd 2018, at Sheraton Hotel Abuja, where the President of the Federation, Alhaji Saleh Rabo, called on both the Federal and State Governments to come up with a national policy on Cultural Tourism to make Nigeria a leading African tourist destination.
In his welcome address at the event, Alhaji Rabo said, “FTAN calls on the federal government, through the Ministry of Information and Culture, to come up with a Nigeria national policy on Cultural Tourism. Many domestic and international tourism experts have long concluded that Cultural Tourism is Nigeria’s most competitive tourist product, if only it will be well harnessed.”
He said apart from Nollywood, Nigeria’s performing arts and fashion have been making waves all over the world. He added that “culture is our God-given tourism comparative advantage. So, Government should work with the tourism private sector to reposition Nigeria as the most remarkable destination to see and enjoy true African heritage.’’
The Nigeria Tourism Investors Forum and Exhibition (NTIFE) is a flagship event started by FTAN in 2013, to serve as a tourism development advocacy event. This year the theme of the two-day NTIFE event is: “Infrastructure and Security: Catalysts for Sustainable Tourism Development”.
In his speech, Alhaji Rabo remarked that FTAN appreciates recent investments by the previous and present federal governments in rail transportation. Particularly, the commissioning of the Abuja to Kaduna rail line and the Abuja city light rail – connecting the airport to Abuja city centre – are noteworthy infrastructural investments.
He pointedly said, “We hereby plead that major tourist destinations and town, at each geopolitical zones, should be made the rail terminals along the newly built rail transport infrastructure. It is incontrovertible that rail transport is one of the best ways for tourists to see a destination’s picturesque countryside and meet directly with locals in rural communities.”
He further called on the federal and State governments to map out Tourism Development Zones (TDZs) across States in Nigeria. Saying that such Tourism Development Zones should consequently be enriched with requite tourist destination facilities using a public-private partnership; including the facilitation of land acquisition by tourism investors. He advised that “the Tourism Development Zones (TDZ) should be mapped-out based on a State’s actual and potential tourist attractions.”
Other dignitaries that spoke at the Nigeria Tourism Investors Forum and Exhibition (NTIFE) were Minister of Information and Culture, represented by the Permanent Secretary, Deaconness Grace Gekpe; the Director of State Security services (SSS) represented by Mr. Emmanuel Nnaemeka; Otunba Segun Runsewe, the Director General of the National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC).
And on November 22nd, the second and final day of NTIFE 2018, the Comptroller General of Nigeria Immigration Service gave the keynote address with a paper titled “Encouraging Tourism in Nigeria: Role of Nigeria Immigration Service.’’ The Comptroller General was represented by Mrs. Wuraola Adepoju, a senior officer with the Immigration Service.
Mrs. Adepoju had the participants at the event captive with her enlightening narration of all the services provided by Nigeria Immigration Service, including Nigeria’s new Visa-On-Arrival (VOA) policy. She explained that the VOA is available to inbound Nigeria travelers from all parts of the world; and that all applications for the facility are responded to within 48 hours time from the first date of application. She encouraged FTAN members to cooperate more with the Nigeria Immigration Service to attract more tourists to Nigeria.
NTIFE 2018 ended with an Abuja City Tour facilitated by the Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC). The group tour took the event participants to tourist sites and attractions around Abuja, Nigeria’s federal capital territory, including the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre, the Three Arms Zone, Aso Rock, National Children Parks and Zoo.