Photo Caption: Minister of Women Affairs, Hajia Aisha Abubakar at one of the exhibition stands
The main hall of the International Conference Centre (ICC), Abuja was agog and ignited for two days with glowing colours and personalities drawn from across the twin sectors of tourism and transportation as well as allied sectors.
It provided an explosive platform for discourse on the potential and challenges facing the growth of the two sectors that are of huge benefits to the nation’s economy.
The occasion was the second edition of the annual National Tourism and Transport Summit and Expo organised by the Institute of Tourism Professionals (ITP). It was an event dedicated to exploring in details the synergy between tourism and transportation and how best to reap the windfalls from them.
The theme for the summit was: ‘Tourism and Transportation Inter-dependencies for Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Development.’’ Other collaborators with ITP in staging the event were the Ministry of Transportation, and Ministry of Information and Culture.
In his welcome remark at the summit, the President of ITP, Chief Abiodun Odusanwo, who was also the Chairman, Local Organising Committee (LOC) of the summit said: “The National Tourism and Transport Summit and Expo is aimed at bringing together all players in the tourism and transport industries so that issues hindering the growth of the two sectors can be tackled without sentiments, but with all the sense of sincerity of purpose and patriotic zeal for the economic and social good of the country. ‘‘It is essentially meant to provide the platform to deliberate on the complex relationship between transport provision and tourism in boosting the nation’s economy. Furthermore, it is to offer a conducive avenue to experts and policy makers in conjunction with key players and operators in the industry to brainstorm on the interconnections between transportation and tourism, a connectivity brought by road, rail, maritime, and air transport services and chart the way forward for both sectors and extension, re-position them in the economic diversification drive of the President Mohammadu Buhari – led administration.”
In declaring the two days summit open, the Secretary to the Federal Government, Boss Mustapha, who was represented by the Minister of Women Affairs, Hajia Aisha Abubakar, commended the organisers for the initiative, which he said is a laudable one as it has the potential to galvanise the two sectors and related industries to boost the economy of the country.
Mustapha reiterated the commitment of the federal government to massive investment in building the country’s infrastructure and the pursuit of peace and security in order to achieve inclusive socio-economic development of the country.
He said for tourism to thrive, the country needs to be at peace, giving assurance of the federal government resolve to handle the various challenges confronting the country while suing for the support and cooperation of all Nigerians and businesses to move the country forward.
Meanwhile, the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCTA), Alhaji Mohammed Musa Bello, said the FCTA was proud to host the summit, which he said offered a platform to chart a better way for the two sectors while calling on all the participants to explore critical issues relating to bridging the gap between transport and tourism sectors.
Some of the keynote speakers at the event included the Ministers of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi and Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed as well as Minister of State, Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, who were all represented at the event.
They all commended the Institute of Tourism Professionals in organising the summit, stressing that as partners and collaborators in hosting the event, they will continue to offer their support for its success.
Some of the resolutions adopted at the end of the two – day session of discourse on various aspects of tourism and transportation and related matters by different speakers from a broad spectrum of the economy, included: Policy summersaults, under utilisation of modern technology, dearth of data and inadequate human and institutional capacity as factors responsible for the for the drawback in the two sectors.
While noting that low level participation and poor investment of the private sector are also slowing down growth in the sectors, they observed that poor infrastructure development and also poor synergy between the two sectors, which observed is not helping to spur sustainable growth and development.
Therefore, they called for steady government policies; stronger public private partnership to grow both sectors, noting that strong human and institutional capacity and use of modern technology to conduct tourism and transportation activities are key if Nigeria is to witness sustainable growth and development in the two sectors.
The summit also tasked relevant tourism agencies to intensify efforts in the promotion and marketing of Nigerian tourism for both domestic and international markets while urging the federal government to liberalise the aviation sector in order to attract massive private investment.
Participants at the summit charged government at different levels and operators in the two sectors to facilitate and ensure the implementation of the recommendations adopted for the socio-economic development of the country.
Beside the talk shop, which was very engaging and robust, equally engaging and colourful was the expo session, which had a number of companies, including government agencies and ministries, exhibiting different products and services for the benefit of the public.
The summit climaxed with an award and gala night, which held on the second day. It was quite an entertaining night with Atunda Entertainment artistes offering a commanding performance.
The night saw the presentation of awards to different individuals and organisations for their various contributions to the development and growth of the two sectors.
The roll call included: Hadiza Bala Usman, managing director of Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), Frank Nneji, chief executive officer of ABC Transport Plc, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, DG, NIMASA, Capt. Muhtar Usman, DG, Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, Engr. Saleh Dunoma, managing director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, Alhaji Muneer Bankole, managing director of Med View Airline and the President of La Campagne Tropicana Beach Resort, Otunba Wanle Akinboboye.