Nigerian tourism: NATOP outlines way forward

NATOP president, Nkereuwem Onung
NATOP president, Nkereuwem Onung

The Nigeria Association of Tour Operators, NATOP has outlined the way forward for the Nigerian tourism industry.

The Association has called on the federal government to streamline the visa procedure for tourist to encourage in-bound visitors.

In a communique issued by NATOP after their last Annual General Meeting, AGM in Calabar and recommendations from other tourism experts at the programme, the body observed that the Procedure for Nigerian visa is cumbersome and the cost is very high especially for tourist visa.

NATOP maintained that the Nigeria Immigration Service eVisa system is not visitor friendly and do not work most times.

It noted that a national carrier is very necessary for Nigeria to develop tourism.

NATOP emphasised in the communique that top tourist destination countries worldwide leverage on the advantages of national carrier to increase visitors arrivals with the attendant benefit of revenue generation.

The body maintained that it is important that unique Nigerian tourism products be developed to promote and market Destination Nigeria, while Tourism in Nigeria should leverage on opportunities being created by the creative industry.

NATOP also in the communique stressed the need for value chain optimization in the industry, the need for tour packaging in collaboration with the creative industry, need for tourism policy advocacy, wealth & employment creation as tourism industry is the largest employer of labour worldwide, including the need for a well-defined cultural tourism calendar and Tourism Product Quality Standardization.

NATOP also listed the useful recommendations of the Keynote Speaker at the event: Prof. Pat Utomi who traced Nigeria Economy from independence till date and stressed the need for commercialisation of culture, like Revenue from Music/ Movie industry (Nollywood) which can be used to develop tourism.

Prof Utomi observed that Immigration service is a major constraint of tourism development.

He recommended that tourism assets/ resources/ products should be developed, need to build and develop a service culture among Nigerians, need to build strong institutions in the tourism sector – NATOP, FTAN among others.

Others include engagement of stakeholders to evolve viable institutions, human capacity development – need for training in the tourism sector, culture- value addition to tourism, that tourism is a low hanging fruits in the economy if developed, need for regional integrated approach to tourism development.
On her part, the director general of the National Council of Art and Culture, NCAC, Mrs Dayo Keshi stressed the need to promote national festivals like the Boat regatta, Durbar, Ofala, Calabar carnival, Oxun, Igue, Ojude Oba among others, including the need to fast track processes and procedures in the system.
Similarly, the ‎director general of National Commission for Museums and Monuments, NCMM, Yusuf Abdallah Usman ‎who was represented by the Curator of the Calabar Museum called for the preservation of National Patrimony – Heritage.
Abdallah Usman who stressed that tourism is key to diversification also called for the ranking of tourism as one of six priority focus of government.
The NCMM boss called for the Review of policy: Re-launching & implementation, need to invest in tourism and also the need to commend NATOP.
While the Federation of Tourism Association of Nigeria, FTAN President, Tomi Akinbogun stressed the need for affordable intervention funds for tourism development.

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