The Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN) has urged the Federal Government to ensure that the budgetary allocation for the tourism industry is increased to upscale the sector.
Mr Nkereuwem Onung, National President of FTAN, made the call during the commemoration of the World Tourism Day celebration, held in Lagos on Tuesday.
The commemoration ceremony had stakeholders in the tourism industry experience boat cruise from Tarzan Jetty at Victoria-Island to Tarkwa Bay Beach, showcasing the acquatic endowments in Lagos State.
Onung said that according to the dictate of the theme for the year, “Rethinking Tourism”, there was need for the federal government to have a rethink on the annual budgetary allocation earmarked for the tourism industry.
“The tourism industry has been underfunded over the years as it has been merged with the culture and information ministry.
“FTAN calls on the federal government to rethink the level of investment and funding for tourism in Nigeria through increased budget allocation.
“The budget profile should increase capital budget to exceed recurrent one,” he said.
Onung noted that to make the tourism industry function optimally, government needed to create a sole ministry of tourism instead of merging tourism with culture and information.
He called on all tourism leaders, government officials and everyone at the base of the broad and diverse tourism pyramid to pause, reflect and rethink what is done and how things are done in the industry.
“The federal government should rethink merging tourism parastatals, rather should empower them to meet their mandates and give tourism a stand-alone ministry.
“It is time for Nigeria to have a tourism master plan and rejig her tourism policies if they exist.
“We must rethink how we think tourism, how we do tourism and the need to collaborate.
“We should engage in digitalising the industry, domestic tourism promotions and activities, purposeful and healthy lobbying to create an enabling environment for FTAN and the well over 20 associations under it.
“Lobbying is one area we need to adopt to enable us play our role as organised private sector; partnership and collaboration will be important to move our tourism promotions and businesses forward,” he said.
Chief Wanle Akinboboye, Chairman, La Campaigne Tropicana Resort, said it was high time government added value to the industry.
Akinboboye noted that if government could focus and invest in the creative and tourism industries, Nigeria’s economy would be able to compete favourably with California.
“It is time we begin to think practical tourism operations, concerted efforts should be made to transform attractions to destinations of choice before we think of marketing them,” he said.
Also, Chief Samuel Alabi, FTAN Board of Trustee Chairman, said that government must be consciously committed to the development of the tourism industry by harmonising the numerous taxes practitioners needed to attend to.
“FTAN is writing history today, which would be read by generations, government needs to do a lot to boost tourism,” he said.
In his remarks, Mr Gani Balogun, Chairman, World Tourism Day planning committee, appreciated all the partners and sponsors of the programme.