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Journalists should be agents of rebranding Nigeria —Chika Balogun, DG, NIHOTOUR

Mrs Chika Balogun is the Director General for National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism, NIHOTOUR an agency of government that specialises in training in tourism and hospitality industry. In this interview, Mrs Balogun revealed the effort being made to ensure accurate collection of data in tourism sector as well as why her agency organised a training workshop for Journalists and Security operatives on rebranding practices of standard ethics in the tourism sector.

 

What is the gesture behind this training?

It is actually part of our mandate to train agencies and sectors that relate with tourism and we tried in our little way to contribute towards the growth of tourism sub – sector specific trainings as often as possible, we’ve not been able to have one in the last year or two due to paucity of fund but as soon as we are able to find any fund anywhere we realise that it is very important to update our brothers and sisters within the agencies that affect tourism in Nigeria.

 

Data collection is one of the problems in the sector; there has been no accurate data of tourists and activities around the sector how do you think this can be resolved?

There is a technology called the TSA, Tourism Satellite Account that the UNWTO encourages  countries to  use for data collection, but I am also sure that even as Nigerians we  can develop our own unique system of  data collection. Data collection is very critical because that is the only way you can plan for the future you know what your problems are today, what  the challenges are,  what is the actual number of visitors  and  you need to plan  for the future. So if we are using the TSA or  data collection system that we developed here ourselves in Nigeria, the critical thing is that we need to develop it very fast. The statistic agencies already have a system of gathering data of many sectors, but they haven’t customised the one for tourism  and we are speaking with them. We are trying to push them to see if they can develop something unique for tourism to help us in finding our movement within Nigeria, check how much is being spent in Nigeria for tourism and  how many people are coming and going out of Nigeria as well. I am sure in the next two years, we should have an effective data collection system in Nigeria.

 

For sometime now, there has been an intense campaign for domestic tourism, efforts are being made by agencies to promote but its seems nothing serious has been achieved.

I am not sure.  I will not agree that nothing serious has been achieved.  I think I will say that we were having status lost.  Of course we all know the security challenges this country has been experiencing in the past four or five years when things seem to be going up something would happen they go back again, Nigerians are extremely resilient people, we have all come to the realisation that this is not, we are not coming back again This is a one time opportunity and need to impact here on earth, people have been saying regardless of what is happening out there we would still live our lives. We could die crossing the road anyway, so let’s stop allowing other people determine for us how well we lived our lives. So, I am sure we are going to see a lot more of movement in the domestic tourism terrain. I  hear a lot of people saying they are going to Calabar Carnival, for this Christmas, some it is Abuja Carnival so domestic tourism is on the hub and we will continue to encourage growth in that area.

 

In the remaining quarter of the year, what are your plans?

On November 17, we will have a CEO and top managers summit, a technical summit in Abuja at the Transcop Hilton, this is an annual session that allows CEO and top managers relate with the challenges and we will also bring them some technical expertise.

We are going to have a  three-day training session for young people in Benin between November 22 and 24, a youth empowerment to give them skills. We are too interested in paper qualification and we really need to begin to look towards actions, skills and help people to do well with their lives. Our new campus will be opened in Benue  before the end of this year so we have a lot of work as the year, winds to an end.