NIGERIA (eTN) – The Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN), the private sector umbrella tourism body, has called on the federal government to help in putting the tourism industry on proper footing.
FTAN made the call on government to make funds available to help Nigerian investors in the sector who are currently facing the financial crunch due to the recession-induced harsh economy.
The private sector practitioners are calling for N500 billion (US$3.2 million) in intervention funds to save the tourism sector in Nigeria.
The president of the federation Mr. Samuel Alabi made the call recently in Lagos, while briefing journalists of the need for the federal government to extend the gesture to the tourism industry.
“Since 2009 [when] that global economic meltdown hit [the] world’s economy, sales of tourism businesses in Nigeria also started melting down, too,” Alabi said.
According to him, before the 2009 meltdown, tourism projections were made based on the robust 2008 business climate report. Now with the 2009 economic meltdown, all of the expected sales that would have complemented bank loans by tourism investors in the areas of project completions and renovations were seriously affected, hence the need for special funds to rescue the sector.
“We need [these] intervention funds now, but not like the textiles and garments funds to revive a dead sector,” he opined.
Intervention funds will enable owners of such abandoned hotel projects to be completed and renovations can also be done, too.
He said further that the tourism private sector is planning a visit to the President, with the intention of making the all important direct appeal to him.
On the recent unbanning of certain furnishing items, FTAN’s president noted with regret that it is sad that the local industry failed to produce some of these items, at least to a minimum standard, and as such, the government move was a welcome development as some of the items are crucial to maintaining a certain level of standard in the tourism sector, most especially, the hospitality sub-sector.
Alabi thanked the president for doing so and noted with caution, however, that in spite of the government move, the local producers still have a large local market that has not even been filled.
He also sympathized with the local producers, who argued that changing their lines of products have not been successful in the past because of government inconsistencies in policies relating to their sector.
As for the standardization of the tourism sector, he said FTAN is working on putting in place a Chartered Institute of Tourism that will certify practitioners across the country just like every other sector of the Nigerian economy.
Regarding the protracted Tourism Master Plan, he noted that FTAN, as a member of the implementation committee alongside others, have harmonized the executive summary and has since been submitted to the appropriate government agency and called for its full implementation.
Also speaking was a member of FTAN, Trustee Mr. Charles Odunukwu, who added that the unbanned items, e.g., furniture, are for direct consumption but not for resale. According to him, all the notable international hotel chains buy quality materials from wherever they are made or found. This practice he noted must be encouraged if local operations are to meet acceptable international standards.
Interestingly, the FTAN president’s analysis of investment in the hospitality sub-sector of the tourism industry alone in Nigeria, stands at a staggering figure in excess of N1 trillion (US$6.4 million), with an annual turnover of over N200 billion (US$1.3 million) and employing well above 500,000 in its work force nationwide.
Earlier, Mr. Alabi painted the odyssey of FTAN since he took over the mantle of leadership in 2009.
Despite the challenges, he was, however, hopeful and sounded encouraging that FTAN, under his leadership, will continue to pursue its role of lobbying government for favorable policies that will pave the way for a good climate that will enhance FTAN’s members’ businesses.
He also emphasized that FTAN is now working very hard to strengthen the various associations that make up the federation with the view of preparing them for the challenges, as well as keying into the various opportunities that might come in future.
Meanwhile, Alabi praised the contributions of Mr. Goodie Ibru, the former Chairman of FTAN’s Board of Trustees, who stepped down after having completed the mandatory two terms as a member and chairman alongside all the members.
He concluded by saying that another trustee will be put in place as soon as consultation, which is currently on, is completed.