NATOP calls for partnerships, advocates increased government involvement in tourism sector
The Nigerian Association of Tour Operators, NATOP, has called for partnerships, increased government involvement in the tourism sector in Nigeria.
In her welcome address/message at its 2023 Annual General Meeting, AGM at the Afe Babalola University in Ekiti State to celebrate its 7th Annual AGM and Tourism Conference, the President of NATOP, Mrs Ime Udo stated that NATOP through her previous AGMs, has consistently focused on addressing pertinent issues within the tourism space, aiming to add value and provide direction for the growth of tourism in Nigeria, as well as the benefit of its members.
Mrs Udo noted that as tour operators within Nigeria, their primary role is to promote various destinations within the country and harness the potential of tourism for economic growth.
She said the main focus of the AGM centres around the theme of tourism and green economy.
She maintained that the theme: “Tourism and Green Economy,” highlights the critical importance of the ecosystem and how tourism can create wealth and develop a sustainable tourism economy in any destination willing to explore the abundant opportunities available.
Udo stated that as tour operators within Nigeria, their primary role is to promote various destinations within the country and harness the potential of tourism for economic growth.
According to the President, Nigeria is abundantly blessed with tourism potential, offering numerous opportunities for economic benefits through its diverse range of tourism resources.
She observed that by placing tourism at the forefront, government can support tour operators in generating substantial revenue .
Udo explained that the AGM serve as platforms to showcase Nigeria’s rich cultural heritage.
She said NATOP can leverage on such events an celebrations to highlight the diverse and unique aspects of the country’s culture, attracting both domestic and international tourist.
” Through our collective efforts, we can ensure the sustainable growth of the Nigerian tourism industry, fostering economic prosperity and preserving our cultural heritage for future generations,” Udo explained.
She pointed out that Nigeria neglect the contribution of tourism to the growth of the economy of the nation.
Udo explained further that through panel sessions and paper presentations, that the AGM will engage in meaningful dialogues and share valuable insights to create a communique that will serve as a blueprint for cultivating a vibrant and sustainable tourism industry in Nigeria.
This communique she said will outline the necessary steps to harness the potential of tourism in a way that aligns with our nation’s commitment to environmental preservation and economic development.
Udo said Nigeria boasts of a wealth of natural and cultural attractions, from breathtaking landscapes to vibrant cultural heritage sites.
She pointed out hat by adopting a green economy approach, the country can tap into this immense potential and create a thriving tourism sector that benefits both our environment and our economy.
Udo noted that It is crucial for states in Nigeria to prioritize environmental conservation, adding that by protecting our natural landscapes, preserving biodiversity, and implementing sustainable practices, Nigeria can safeguard her tourism assets for future generations.
She said this will not only attract Eco-conscious travelers but will also contribute to the overall well-being and quality of life for the citizens.
NATOP President maintained that investing in renewable energy sources can be a game-changer for Nigeria’s tourism sector.
Udo stated that: “By embracing clean energy solutions such as solar and wind power, we can reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, minimize our carbon footprint, and create a more sustainable tourism infrastructure. This will make our destinations more appealing to environmentally conscious travelers and enhance the resilience and competitiveness of our tourism industry.
“In addition, promoting community-based tourism initiatives can unlock significant opportunities for local communities. By empowering and involving local residents in the tourism value chain, we can ensure that the economic benefits of tourism reach the grassroots level. This can be achieved through training, capacity building, fostering entrepreneurship, and creating platforms for meaningful engagement between tourists and local communities. By doing so, we can create a more inclusive tourism sector that spreads economic prosperity throughout Nigeria”.
She observed that as tour operators, they strive to prioritize the socio-cultural aspects of sustainability.
According to her, “This involves respecting local traditions and cultures, supporting local businesses and communities, and educating tourists about the importance of responsible travel.
Udo also explained that by integrating cultural immersion experiences and supporting community-based tourism initiatives, tour operators can contribute to the well-being of local communities while offering authentic and meaningful travel experiences to their clients.
She stressed that promotion plays a vital role in the success of any green initiative that tour operators leverage for their marketing and communication channels, noting that raising awareness among travelers about the importance of sustainable tourism is key to driving positive change in our industry.