Minister Advocates Digital Technology To Strengthen Industry Manpower Capacity

From: Segun Babatunde in Bauchi

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has called on operators and practitioners in the Nigerian Travel-Tourism and Hospitality industry to seize the opportunity occasioned by the Covid-19 Global pandemic to re-strategize and re-position the industry for better growth and development via the application of digital technology.

He noted that as bad and critical as the pandemic is, it is an eye opener for the Nigerian tourism industry to be resilient in ensuring that the industry works for the socio- economic good of the country.

Lai Mohammed made the call through Mr. Folorunsho Coker, Director General of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) at the occasion of the Annual Master Lecture Series of the National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism (NIHOTOUR), held in Abuja yesterday.

According to a Press release signed by Ahmed Mohammed Sule, Director,Media and Public Relations of NIHOTOUR which was made available newsmen yesterday, the Minister said human capital development of the Nigerian tourism sector must be compliant with the provisions of the protocol guidelines of Covid-19 for the safety of both service providers and customers as a way of building confidence in the sector.

He said the theme of this year’s lecture which is ‘Professionalizing the Nigerian Tourism and Hospitality Personnel in a Pandemic World’ was apt and couldn’t have come at a better time than now when government is doing everything possible to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic while at the same time allowing economic activities to go on without hindrance.

Also speaking at the occasion, Dr. Ifeoma Adora Anyanwutaku, Permanent Secretary of the Information and Culture Ministry said personnel in the tourism and hospitality sector in Nigeria must acquire skills that will enable them conduct their businesses in a safer and sustainable manner in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.

He assured that the National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism is in a better position to provide the platform for impacting the necessary skills for such professional conducts that adhere strictly to the Covid-19 non-pharmaceutical protocols.

The Permanent Secretary who was represented at the occasion by Mrs. Patricia Joseph Narai, Director of Domestic and Eco Tourism in the Ministry, stated that the current technological break-through in ICT has made it possible for people to conduct business without much of physical contacts through the deployment of electronic and online transactions that are a critical component of the Covid-19 protocol provisions.

Earlier in his welcome address, Alhaji Nura Sani Kangiwa, Director General of NIHOTOUR said though the Tourism and Hospitality sector is the hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic globally, the industry remains the most viable sector of the Nigerian economy.

He noted that the choice of the theme for the 2021 Lecture is to address the skill-gap prevalent in the industry especially of compliance with the Covid-19 protocol guidelines by industry players in the conduct of travel tourism and hospitality activities in the country.

Alhaji Kangiwa stressed that while government’s proactive measures and efforts must be appreciated at stemming the tide of the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, stakeholders in the travel tourism and hospitality industry must deploy the use of modern technology to adequately equip themselves with the necessary skills for efficient and effective service delivery without compromising their safety and wellbeing and those of the patronizing customers against the deadly virus of Covid-19.
This year’s Annual Master Lecture Series is the fifth. As a critical part of the academic activities of the Institute, the exercise was instituted to attract.
Hospitality and Tourism, practitioners, professionals and intellectuals to provide informative, engaging and thought-provoking lectures on varying issues that are of paramount relevance to the growth, development and promotion of a flourishing Hospitality and Tourism industry in Nigeria.

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