Posts Tagged ‘Nigeria tourism’


Nigeria Tourism

The Senate has urged the Federal Government to consider excising culture and tourism from the Federal Ministry of Information to ensure the harnessing of tourism potential in the country.

The Senate also mandated its Committee on Information and Culture to consider summoning the Minister of Information and Culture to brief the members on the performance of culture and tourism sector.

The resolutions followed adoption of a motion at plenary by Sen. Fatimat Raji-Rasak (Ekiti), who said that there was need for the country to formulate and adopt policies that would develop tourism in a sustainable manner.

Noting that tourism was a wealth creator, the lawmaker said, “it has become absolutely necessary for the Senate to intervene in a manner that will ensure that tourism is given priority in our development agenda.

“This is because of its globally recognised potential in contributing to the growth of local economies. Over the last decade, tourism has emerged as one of the largest economic sectors accounting for nine per cent of the world’s GDP and over 200 million jobs.

“Tourism offers millions of direct and indirect entry point into the workforce, particularly for youths and women and ensure diversity of investment opportunities for young entrepreneurial talents.’’

In his contribution, Sen. Mao Ohabunwa (Abia-PDP) said that Nigeria must develop its tourism potential in efforts to diversify the economy.

According to him, Nigeria is endowed but we have not been able to develop what we have.

“This is important now that the country is diversifying its economy; we need to make our tourist sites beautiful and ensure they are well maintained to attract tourists. It is obvious that the discovery of oil made us to leave our tourism potential underdeveloped,’’ Ohabunwa said.

On his part, Sen. Barau Jubrin called for the review of the country’s tourism policy with a view to have a workable one.

“The problem is that there is lack of workable tourism policy and to have a robust economy there is need to have a sound tourism sector,’’ Jubrin said.

Similarly, Sen. Adokwe Suleiman said “Nigeria has beautiful milestones but this is undermined by neglect and insurgency.

“Tourism has continued to be more of lip service; we need to de-emerge the ministry in order to give more focus on development of tourism.’’

Stressing the need for the country’s tourist sites to be protected, Sen. Ben Bruce urged government at all tiers to take active efforts to promote tourism.

He also called for increased private sector participation in order to facilitate rapid development of the sector.


Nigeria Tourism


Director General, Nation Council for Arts and Culture, Otunba Olusegun Runsewe, has stated the tourism and culture sector if properly harnessed have the potential to drive the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), even as he called on relevant authorities to adopt cultural diplomacy in addressing social and economic challenges facing the country.

Runsewe told journalists in Kaduna that the spate of hate speeches and ethno-religious crisis would be tackled if effective use of culture was made to bring Nigerians together.

The DG who was in Kaduna for the 47th meeting of the Executive Council on Culture, said Nigeria must learn from history and deploy culture effectively to cement bonds of friendship and interaction among the different tribes in the country.

“We going to adopt cultural diplomacy to solve most, if not all of the challenges we are facing. We are learning from history and the best option is cultural diplomacy which is what we are going to adopt this time; if we have respect for our individual cultures from different region, there won’t be hate speech.

“So, we are inculcating and reawakening the consciousness of our people that we can use our culture to solve a lot of problem in our society.”

The DG also said the country needed to exploit its cultural potentials to boost its Gross domestic Product (GDP).

“We need to prepare ourselves for the rainy day; 17 countries in Africa gather their GDP from culture and tourism, so why not Nigeria, we have the resources, manpower that can take care of all these things.

“Creative industry alone can change the narrative of this country. In this industry, no one is a waste, everybody useful, because you have to have one thing or two to contribute. This is the sector that will save this country from the challenges we have.”

Runsewe disclosed that the council meeting was preparatory to the National Festival of Art and Culture (NAFEST), to be held in Kaduna from October 14 to 21.

“We have 17 directors from different states of the federation and we have toured facilities to be used for the festival. It is a good strategy that we have gone round to check all the places, I believe Kaduna state is ready for the business of hosting NIFEST, I believe it’s good to go,” said Runsewe.

By VICTOR NZESavedPicture-20161218205728.jpg

Stakeholders in the travel and tourism industry of the country have continued to register their displeasure over moves by the National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism (NIHOTOUR) to push through a bill presently before the National Assembly which seeks to confer on it the sole authority to regulate the industry.

This is also as experts have advised the federal lawmakers not to duplicate laws governing the industry, but address challenges bedeviling the sector by way of clarifying on existing constitutional provisions guiding the operations of various agencies in the tourism industry, instead of looking to create fresh ones.

Tagged the; ‘Bill for an Act to Provide for the Establishment of the National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism for Training of Personnel and Regulation of Professional Personnel Practices and Services of Hospitality and Tourism Activities in Nigeria and other related matters,’ the document seeks to effectively extend the control of the institute in industry practice.

The proposed NIHOTOUR Bill which came up for Public hearing, June 15, has continued to generate contempt within the tourism industry in the country as stakeholders flay the move by NIHOTOUR to establish itself as apex regulatory and registration body for tourism establishments across the country.

It would be recalled that in January 2011, former Director General of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Otunba Segun Runsewe, said at a stakeholders’ meeting organized by the corporation in Lagos, under the theme of; ‘Tourism and National Security,’ that the corporation remains the apex tourism body ‘empowered by law to regulate, coordinate, and harmonize all tourism activities in Nigeria’.

“Section 1, Sub-Section 3 of the bye-law provides that no person shall operate a hospitality or Tourism establishment unless he has obtained and in possession of a current certificate of registration from the Corporation. It becomes illegal for anybody or group to operate any form of tourism establishment without duly registering with the NTDC,” said Runsewe.

He said the Hospitality and Tourism Establishment (Registration, Grading, and Classification) regulation bye-law enacted by the Federal Government in 1997, Section 1, Sub-Section 3 of that bye-law provides that no person shall operate a hospitality or Tourism establishment without the approval of the NTDC.

However, the Supreme Court in its ruling of 19 July 2013 validated both the Hotel Licensing Law of Lagos State (as amended) and the Hotel Occupancy and Restaurant Consumption Law of Lagos State, while the offending sections of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) Act was rendered null and void.

The Supreme Court in dismissing the case filed by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and upholding the contention of the Attorney General (AG) of Lagos State Mr. Ade Ipaye, held that the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (CFRN) 1999 as amended, only empowers the National Assembly (NASS) to regulate tourist traffic, a term which does not extend to hotel registration or licensing.

It was the view of the Supreme Court that the NTDC Act went beyond its powers as stated in the Exclusive Legislative List of the Constitution which is to regulate “tourist traffic”. This effectively challenged the constitutionality of the NTDC’s powers to unilaterally regulate and control of hotels and tourism in Nigeria. The court therefore validated the respective laws of Lagos State.

In validating the position of Lagos State to regulate its tourism establishments, the Supreme Court ruling also paved the way for other states like Cross River, Akwa Ibom, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to lay siege to hospitality and leisure establishments and extort all manner of fees, levies and taxes such that the local councils in each of these states delved in to explore these business firms for their IGRs.

Though the laws setting up the NTDC were promulgated during the military era specifically the Decree 81 of 1992 which empowers the NTDC to regulate, grade and standardize hotel operations, however, the Supreme Court ruling of 2013 apart from effectively stripping hotel regulations off the corporation, it has also inadvertently exposed the incapability of states to adequately ensure best practices and standards in the hotel industry.

The Nigerian hospitality sub-sector is currently faced with an avalanche of taxes like the : Registration of Hospitality Premises, Stamp Duty, Nigerian Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSIT), Industrial Training Fund (ITF) National Pension Commission (PENCOM), Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Value Added Tax (VAT), Pay As You Earn (PAYE), Company Income Tax, Withholding Tax, Liquor License, Food Handlers and Health Certificate.

Other taxes include; the Visual Advert, Waste Disposal, Bill Board, Sign Post, Operation Permit, Vehicle Emission Fee, Contravention Charges, Business Premises, Administrative Charges for Environmental, Audit, Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON), water supply, electricity supply, copious levies by the local government councils, as well as other fees charged by regulatory agencies across the sectors at the state and federal levels.

“The reality is that the current burden of taxes and levies is heavy, especially when situated within the context of the high operating cost for business. The sector wants to be very clear and certain of its tax obligations, the number of taxes, the rates, period of payment, mode of payment and so on; a tax system that is devoid of arbitrariness and not driven by the whims and caprices of state officials,” said former President of the Hotel Owners Forum of Abuja (HOFA), Engr. Onofiok Ekong, who added that “the local governments are the main culprits here as these taxes have by extension pushed the sector to the brink.”

Many in the industry, therefore, see the proposed NIHOTOUR Bill as adding to the controversy, with the National Assembly attempting to shoot itself in the foot by moving to enact another controversial law rather than address the constitutional challenge thrown up by the Supreme Court.

In condemning the proposed NIHOTOUR bill, NTDC Director-General, Mr Folorunsho Folarin-Coker, opined that NIHOTOUR would be going beyond the mandate for which it was established if the bill is passed into law by the National Assembly.

Insisting that the institute was established, principally, as a training institute for personnel and stakeholders in the tourism and hospitality industry, Folarin-Coker said: “The bill will be giving NIHOTOUR the position of both a trainer and a regulator of everything relating to tourism; thereby disregarding the legality of other parastatal agencies.’’

According to him, the country’s tertiary institutions should be allowed to establish departments that would train personnel in tourism, adding that by encouraging several tertiary institutions to be part of it, this would enhance the ease of doing business as enunciated by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo recently.

Also, the National President, National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA), Mr Bankole Bernard, said NIHOTOUR had no statutory power to regulate tourism affairs in Nigeria, just as he insisted that NIHOTOUR would even do well as a directorate under NTDC.

“This is a bill that cannot see the light of the day because NIHOTOUR has no capacity to regulate the huge tourism industry. We should have NIHOTOUR as a directorate under NTDC,’’ he said.

Travel and writers under the aegis of the Association of Nigerian Journalists and Editors of Tourism (ANJET), also an affiliate of the Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN) said NIHOTOUR has completely gone beyond its brief and what is expected of it, described the proposed bill as “death knell of hospitality and tourism”.

The tourism writers, who joined other stakeholders from travel agents, tour operators, park and leisure services providers, in blasting the document, maintained that the proposed bill further compounds the precarious situation of tourism regulation in the country, as the agency itself should rather be seeking to grow its capacity in the field of training of industry practitioners.

“If it is a training institute then it should restrict itself to that regardless of the NOC/NOS/NBTE provisions. What it is seeking to be with the full provisions of this bill is become omnibus body and ombudsman of tourism, which should not be,” ANJET said.

Also reacting, the Nigerian Association of Tour Operators (NATOP) said; “the proposed bill is an attempt to corner and colonize Nigeria Tourism by a training school and should be discouraged wondering why an institute wants to overreach itself”.

Similarly, a hospitality expert and scholar, Dr Wasiu Babalola, called for the outright rejection of the proposed NIHOTOUR bill by the National Assembly.

The outgoing Managing Director – West Africa, Swiss International Hotels and incumbent Honorary Secretary, Institute of Hospitality UK in Nigeria said: “The bill should be rejected for the agency aiming beyond its mandate. Why should it try to define who a professional is?

“When did government start deciding who should be president / chairman of council of professional bodies? Why should the agency want to take over the powers of NUC and NBTE? The proposers of the bill are surely ill-informed”.

NIHOTOUR, an agency in the Ministry of Culture and Information, with two campuses in Lagos and Osogbo, in Osun State, has for some time come under heavy fire, as industry watchers insist the agency has been undergoing challenges in its statutory role as a training institute established to boost capacity in the industry.

Established in 1987 following an agreement signed by the Federal Government, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the Federal Government had to ensure that NIHOTOUR started its training activities in 1988.

The institute was a department and the training wing of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation before it gained autonomy in 1998. Thereafter, the mandate of the institute was widened to provide technical skills and vocational manpower need for hotel, catering, and tourism workforce in Nigeria.

Chief Samuel Alabi (2)

Chief Samuel Alabi


Chairman, Board of Trustees of the umbrella body of tourism and travel practitioners in the country, the Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN), Chief Samuel Alabi, has called on the federal government to decentralize its policies geared towards tourism development and promotion in the country.

This is just as the tourism expert urged the Nigerian elite to buy into products of domestic tourism in the country in order to drive the industry and position it effectively to realize its full potential.

At a Media Forum with travel and tourism writers, Tuesday, at the Eko Hotel & Suites, Lagos, Alabi posited that Nigeria was too large an entity for a one-size-fits-all policy and tourism marketing plan, as, according to him, states of the federation should be encouraged to develop their own tourism products and market among themselves.

“We are still being pursued by the military experience, where everything was expected to be unitary, including programmes and policies geared towards growing the economy or improving the lives and business of the people. It would be an anomaly for any minister of tourism in Nigeria to attempt to cover the country with one development and marketing plan.

“As far as tourism policies are concerned, it has to be state-based. Nigeria is too large to attempt to cover it with one programme or policy, or even as in the case of a tourism development body like the NTDC somewhere to attempt to proffer solutions or evolve a one-policy to fit all states of the federation. Every state in Nigeria has unique products, they should be allowed to develop, market and showcase these products to suit their own peculiar identities.

“States should evolve tourism projects, packages and others to sell to other states and market it, and vice versa. Let each state of the federation evolve its own tourism products. We have gotten our indices wrong under the present modality of attempting a wholesale production of tourism product as brand identity for Nigeria.

“If you are attempting to promote a destination from the platform of the hotels located in that area, you also have to know that nobody visits a destination because of the hotels there, but rather for other attractions there and then they get to stay in the hotel for added comfort. By the way, not all tourists come for hotel relaxation; some will even carry their own backpacks, so it’s not the luxury of the hotel that they are looking for. We should all come together and brainstorm on the way forward. If you don’t have enough resources to build a hotel, why not partner with others to realize that project; just as they do in Kenya,” said Alabi, a one-time president of FTAN.

Continuing, Alabi, who is presently Company Secretary/Legal Adviser of the Eko Hotels and Suites, Lagos, also advised the country’s elite to buy into products of domestic tourism so as to lift the sector and reposition it in the minds of the populace for patronage, while insisting that this remains the biggest challenge to growing domestic tourism.

“The Nigerian elite should be encouraged or even be made to key in to local tourism products. We need them to buy into these products by way of patronage. The problem of Nigeria tourism is the elite. Once we begin to consume our products, sincerely, we will begin to get it right. Basically, we have to redesign our scope; we have to begin to consume our tourism products for a start. The Nigerian elite should also be made to buy into it.

On the issue of capacity in the industry, Alabi called for streamlining of training in the industry and in the academia.

“We don’t have a streamlined training and curriculum on the subject of tourism in the country today. So if you hear or see anybody who says he or she is a tourism graduate, it’s a lie. The tourism sector is diverse. There’s wildlife, travel, hospitality, adventure, and so on. So it not right for anyone to claim to be a tourism graduate just for having studied one aspect of the industry,” he said.

Alabi also used the platform of the Forum to caution the government to be mindful of its economic policies, which, according to him, tended to put the industry on the first line of impact, due to what he described as the ‘fragile’ nature of the sector.

“The hotel industry typically is a fragile one. Any slight shift in the economy affects the industry first and directly. This is largely because for whatever it offers, there are alternatives for the consumer. So it is at the first-line of hit in any policy or paradigm shift in the economy. Also, any negative fiscal policy of government puts the hotel industry in the frontline of impact.

“So we are careful and we are always wary of government policies, hence we constantly advise them on these. If it is coming to the hotel for food only and you suddenly cannot afford it, you go to the nearest cafeteria, if you can’t afford that, you eat at home, all depending on your bank account. The same goes for accommodation. So for much of what the hotel offers, there are alternatives, in addition, also to there being competition among the operators. So any government that tends to affect the purchasing power of the consumer hits us first at the hotels,” he said.

Describing his entrance into tourism as an act of ‘sheer providence’, the legal practitioner pointed out that his tenure at FTAN provided him a veritable platform to effect some fundamental changes in the industry, even as he was quick to admit the inherent problems bedeviling the association.

I’m a corporate guy and I’m in the tourism industry. I’ve been at the Eko Hotels since 1997 right from my national Youth Service time when I was posted here. I came into tourism by sheer providence because I studied law and I’m a lawyer by practice. I was called to the bar technically while still serving in the NYSC at the Eko Hotels where I was posted to. I came into hotel industry as a youth corper. If I had my way I’d want my children to go into the hotel industry. It’s very peaceful. This is where you can grow without any godfatherism.

“In my time as president of FTAN, much as I tried, we are unable to bring all or most people onboard, we tried to bring the road transporters like the ABC Transport company man but it wasn’t possible. Today, no tourism and travel event can hold without consultation with FTAN. We also ensured that hoteliers didn’t dominate the affairs of the association since so many past presidents of the body had been produced by the hoteliers affiliate bodies to FTAN.

“We made sure that the travel agents body like NANTA made an inroad into FTAN in terms of control. We put an end to international branches of FTAN, when you used to hear of FTAN USA, FTAN UK, FTAN Ghana, and many such anomalies. We ended the cap-in- hand to government trend for execution of association’s programmes and events. I believe we should be independent. Tourism is a private sector driven industry, government does not even own hotels, hence, you don’t have to go to government for money.

“However, today, we are unfortunate to have pretenders at FTAN. We have people who are there for what they can get rather than for what they can contribute to the organization, and by extension the tourism industry inn Nigeria. The seeming lack of real standard in the industry is the greatest burden and challenge of FTAN as it is today.

“That the association has been weakened at the expense of affiliate bodies within it is a sad case. The FTAN I met on ground when I came was comatose and if I had known that before, I probably would not have not come in. But I was encouraged to go in because of my relationship with the association as former President of the Hotel and Personal Services Employers Association of Nigeria (HOPESEA).  There are professional bodies affiliated to FTAN that have become stronger and domineering over the parent body itself. That should not be the case, but is a major problem. If FTAN is to grow, the stakeholders must come together instead of allowing consultants to control the body,” he said.

SavedPicture-20161218205728.jpgNigerians with new passports seeking to travel to Indonesia will need to present a certificate of recommendation from the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, among other documents to process their visas.

Indonesian Ambassador to Nigeria, Harry Purwanto, who stated this in Abuja, said that that the new visa policy was in line with global measures to promote safety for its citizens, adding that it was reviewed in October 2016.

He, however said that it was easier for those with frequently used their passports, to get visas.

He explained that applicants seeking to travel to Indonesia also need to be invited or have certain recommendations to visit that country.

The envoy added that the policy had made visa application process for Nigerians “quite tough” but added that it was for the safety of all.

“We (the embassy) could authorise the issuance of visas without having to get in touch with Jakarta but since October 2016, we have to send visa applications from here to Jakarta for approval. We here can make only recommendations on visa applications, especially if applicants have programmes to undertake in Indonesia, but it is at the discretion of authorities in Jakarta to approve the visas that will be issued.

He also said that about 2000 visas were issued to Nigerians in 2016 same as in the year before.

He further said that both countries were working on programmes that could enhance people-to-people relations adding that such relations would promote understanding between both cultures.

“We have about 50 Nigerian students in Indonesia, some under scholarship, and they serve as ambassadors for Nigeria there. The Nigerian community in the country is not so large that is why crimes committed by a few could tarnish the image of others.”

Purwanto, however, assured that both governments were working to change such bias.

SavedPicture-20161218205728.jpgMore advocacy have come for the Federal Government to look inward for the development of the country’s tourism as the Ohanaeze Ndi-Igbo, Monday also called for massive investment in the existing cultural and tourism facilities to create job opportunities and curb crime among the youth.

Chairman of Ohanaeze in Anambra, Chief Damian Okeke, who made the call when he led the leadership of the organisation to inspect the cultural heritage and sports facilities at Rojenny Tourists and Sports centre, Oba, Idemili South Local Government Area, decried the dilapidation of the zoo, games and sports facilities in the centre built over 30 years ago.

According to him, investment in tourism and sports rather than purchasing and spending on arms and armoured vehicles would curb crime and youth restiveness in the country.

“It is good that this facility was set up here when people were not settled around this area over 30 years ago but it is painful that it is not just being under utilised but allowed to decay.

“This place is not in line with the vision of Ezeonwuka, if it was positioned around Onitsha, Nnewi, Oba and Obosi, it could be used as a rediscovery ground for the jobless youths.

“We are calling on the Federal and state governments to as a matter of necessity come and see how they can upgrade this place and revamp the dilapidated facilities for effective utilisation.

“There is no need to try to build new amusement, wild life, sports facilities while the ones we have are collapsing,” he said.

Okeke said Ohanaeze would take the matter to Anambra government for effective action.

In his remark, Chief Rommy Ezeonwuka, the owner of the tourist/games facility lauded the leadership of Ohanaeze for being in the vanguard for equity and justice for all.

He said that Nigeria should take a cue from Jamaica where the talent and strength of the youth were channeled to sports.


The Nigerian passport

Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Wednesday, disclosed that it has concluded plans to effect an upward review of the fees charged for processing and obtaining the international passport.

According to the agency, it was only awaiting the final approval by President Muhammadu Buhari to roll out a new price regime for the travel document.

Speaking during the opening ceremony of a programme on capacity building in information and communications technology for NIS personnel organized by Huawei Technologies, Wednesday, in Abuja, the NIS comptroller-general, Mr. Muhammad Babandede, said the hike became necessary as the current fee charged was no longer sustainable.

“It is not easy for us to pay for the booklets because of the cost.

“You will agree with me that air tickets have doubled in this country. You are aware that a lot of fees have changed but the passport fees have not changed. We cannot afford to provide providing these passports under the current charges.

“We have written to the government, as soon as we have approval, we will be able to deliver the data bases but I’m telling you, currently, it’s not sustainable.

“It’s not sustainable because the prices are not competitive. These passport booklets are not handled by the government. It’s a private partnership arrangement. The part government has is labour and providing the offices.”