The acting president of the Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria, FTAN, and aspirant for the position of the president of FTAN, Mr Nkereuwem Onung has outlined his seven point agenda aimed at repositioning the body and fastracking the growth and development of tourism in the country.
Speaking with Journalists in Lagos on his aspirations to lead FTAN, and his vision for the tourism industry, Onung stated that the time has come to take tourism to national prominence.
Onung who is also the chief executive officer of Remlords Tours and Car Hire Services stressed the need to raise that consciousness so that at the end tourism gets better in Nigeria.
He believed that the industry has lost out on a whole lot of issues about tourism in terms of engagements.
Onung emphasised that he is seeking for prosperity for the industry and for the players that have given their lives to it.
“I believe that we have lost out on a whole lot of issues about tourism in terms of engagements because the engagements were inappropriate, the engagements did not take us anywhere, we believed that whatever has been the gains of the past 12 years, we will begin to consolidate it and raise tourism and FTAN to the national prominence”.
He pointed out that one of the reasons the tourism ministry was lost was because there wasn’t enough data to measure the contribution of tourism to the country’s GDP.
Remlords boss promised that when elected, he will work on improving data capturing so that the statistics will reflect the relevance of tourism in Nigeria.
He said: “I believe that we can robustly work towards that so that at the end everybody will understand what tourism contributes to our GDP, so that at the end, we begin to see how we can change the narratives and begin to work on our governments to begin to see us in that light that we are in the industry”.
He lamented that some officials have turned FTAN administrative structures like that of the vice presidents to individuals who go around doing things that are not constitutional by creating state excos of secretary and chairman, which are illegal structures that supposed not to be.
He promised to strengthen and unify member associations of FTAN and raise the visibility of the body to begin to engage appropriate institutions together.
He said: “When this is done, I believe that we will gradually move to a point everybody will give us our rightful place, we will also begin to contribute properly to the economic spheres in terms of our GDP. It is also believed that if we articulate and create proper consensus in terms of where we are going, then we have the same narratives as we go forward, there is no how people wouldn’t take us serious. We can articulate and agree on action points like we are going to do this in the next six months, we are going to do that in the next 12months so that the consciousness will be raised, so that at the end of It all, we would have a better tourism industry”.
Onung also stressed on the need for funding for the industry.
In his words: “The other aspect of it is funding,we have a lot of things going on at different levels, we have people at different levels engaging in tourism, pocketing money without analysing the effect of the activities to National tourism. What this means is that we have people that have engaged in national tourism and cover some some grounds on what would have been a national association perspective. Are there grants in the industry, yes, but there are people who are condoning such grants because of their approach and I believe that the national associations and FTAN that is well articulated will conduct itself in such a way that we use statistics to access some of those funds”.
He continued that: “Some of us understand what happened to Covid 19 palliatives, why is that tourism that suffered the most in the industry has not been able to attract any kind of palliative.
We always say that If NANTA got any palliative, it wasn’t because of NANTA activism, but because of what happened in aviation. We don’t believe that we need to behave like trade unions, it has to be negotiations, it has to be people working together harnessing what we need to do to better the industry. I don’t how we engaged in the past, I wasn’t involved, but the president was involved. But we have heard much in that direction am sure most of us were not also engaged. I believed that if there is proper articulation and the media bought into it, we would have been able to make more inroads towards getting funding for the industry and that brings me to the aspect of our relationships with governments and international associations.
“We don’t intend to be at loggerheads with the institutions of tourism, we believe that there are avenues that we can engage them professionally for them to give account of their stewardship to Nigerians, there are things that can be done, there are foras that be created that every one who runs an agency of tourism gives account of what they have done and not to wait for four years to be over to begin to tell us what they have done and what they haven’t done. So is possible for us to raise that consciousness and at the end, tourism gets better in Nigeria”.
On the secretariat, he observed that the secretariat can be restructured and redesigned to produce more by making it more business like in terms of delivering value to members and those people that are stakeholders in the industry.
“What am saying now is different from projects that could be raised like a national tourism conference, these are the things we need to raise the stake because if you don’t raise the stake and visibility of the association, it might be difficult for you to say we are holding a tourism national conference that the whole country will look forward to in terms of influencing policies of tourism and going forward and making tourism much more visible for government to at least restore our ministry,” Onung explained.