NANTA and the Love For Nigeria Tourism

By Frank Meke.

Until Otunba Segun Runsewe came to Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation ( NTDC) , now renamed fancifully as Nigeria Tourism Development Authority ( NTDA), Nigeria tourism promotion and marketing was left in the groove of simplicity and confusion.

There was no serious direction, and for lack of not possibly trying to ” buga,” we simply hire a corner at the World Travel Market, not just any corner but the most absurd and mundane, put up a ramshackle table, hire a cleaner to man the place, and disappear to shopping malls in the United Kingdom.

At the end of such global tourism marketing event, Nigerian tourism officials will appear in their newly acquired apparels, pretend to belong, pay for television appreance, and speak through their noses, and sneeze out lies on the number of trade gains for the country.

Please note that during those times, the private sector were not part of their delegation, and neither did the local tourism media count. It was just government magic, nothing more, nothing less.

In 2016, Runsewe came around and deflated the lying ego of the organised tourism cult in the ministry, rejigged ntdc, sourced and produced promotional materials, and gave Nigeria tourism marketing, a new direction.

And until he left in 2013, Nigeria did not only become an embodiment of courage to Africa’s emerging tourism visibility, but Runsewe ensured the full presence of the country’s private sector tourism practitioners at WTM, Arab Travel Market, ITB in Berlin and Fitur in Madrid Spain.

When he left, the retrogressives ( you know them) collapsed all the gains, frustrated tourism inflow targets. To worsen our situation, the new powers and “Authority” at ntda failed to mobilize homegrown opportunities but transmuted into Herodian enforcers, killing at sight any known initiative or request for collaboration or partnership.

From 2015 till date, Nigeria took ten steps backwards, lost all progressive contacts and opportunities, and became deliberately ambivalent to good tourism advice.

Our pharaoh at ntda is all-knowing and hugs failings as mandates. It has been six years, almost seven years of tourism inartia in Nigeria, simply because we appointed a bat as a tourism director general.

It is gratifying to note that the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies ( Nanta) has braced to change the narratives. Last year, the association led by its indefatigable, no nonsense, and talk and do tourism amazon, Mrs Susan Akporiaye made a huge appearance at WTM, hoisted the Nigerian flag.

Nanta is unarguably Nigeria’s best organised tourism and travel trade body, and for over four decades, notably championed strategic gains in the industry, expressively and patriotically willing to stand in gap for the people and nation wherever tourism issues are on the plate.

Tereza Ojo ( formerly known as ezeobi), nanta’s first female president, escalated the presence of nanta members on the local tourism scene and strategically brought the federal and states governments out of tourism lethargy, populated the marketing of domestic cultural tourism festivals such as kano durbar and Abuja carnival and helped state governors to find their tourism bearings.

Three decades after the Tereza Ojo blistering historic effort, Mrs Susan Akporiaye took over the baton, and for the second time, is heading out again to London WTM to give Nigeria a face , presence and a voice at the global tourism market with over forty thousand trade exhibitiors and a hundred countries confirmed attendance.

These are the types of advantages we crave to help our country to rebound and restart in key areas of our cultural tourism realities. Susan Akporiaye is bold and fearless, the kind of transformational leader we desire to take back our lost glory.

Akporiaye is young and flourishingly energetic and has, over time, recalibrated nanta’s dare to conquer spirit of the founding fathers of association, powering collaborations and partnership with willing agents of tourism change within and outside Nigeria.

It’s not Uhuru yet for Nigeria tourism promotion and marketing, but this strategic intervention of nanta under the leadership of Mrs Susan Akporiaye deserves President Ahmed Tinubu attention and encouragement.

Here’s a Nigerian and her team, private sector operators, putting all they have for the sake of the fatherland and her people. How many people or organisations do that in a nation where patriotism is defined by narrow selfish ends and where government money is the lure of corruption?.

Kudos to the rightists in nanta, men and women who chose to support a dream, a Nigerian cultural tourism centric exposition without counting immediate gains.

I salute the courage of nanta. I salute kabiru Maiwada and Dr Chima Ihe, men who broke ranks away from pessimism and threw their hats into the rings so that nanta will rise again. To Mrs. ( pastor) chinyere Umeasiegbu, a great tourism evangelist and vice-president, eastern zone of nanta, your sweat won’t be in vain.

Yinka Folami, the nanta lagos big boy, Kudos for being consistently loyal to nanta and its dreams. Tomorrow, the nanta team will head out to London to stake unbehalf of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu government, the beauty and hospitality of our dear people.

Nanta has shown capacity in what it takes to love and promote Nigeria. This politics of sacrifice and commitment should guide our collective desire to return Nigeria to winning ways.

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