Is the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed finding it difficult to give tourism promotion the expected boost it deserves to contribute to the growth of Nigeria’s economiy?
This question becomes the heel of the delay in making remarkable move to restore stakeholders’ confidence in the multi-billion naira tourism industry in Nigeria.
Unarguably, this notion gave birth to a tourism summit hosted by the Minister of Information and Culture in Abuja months ago.
However, there are fears that the summit will bring no fruits at the end of the day, while others stakeholders said they are tired of hope upon hopes, knowing that lip-services always give birth to stillbirth.
It could be recalled that it took the minister almost a year or so before he struggled to call a press conference where he announced a date for a tourism summit.
The summit has come and gone, with little or nothing to give tourism the desire push, unless for the committee setup to submit a recommendation for tourism promotion and development in Nigeria.
However, two months have gone and nothing concrete is on ground to stimulate tourism activities. How long will it take the ministry to prepare a blueprint for a country rich in tourism resource to turn around the Nigerian economy?
According to a member of the eight-man committee and President of Federation of Tourism Association of Nigeria (FTAN), Mr Tomi Akingbogun, “The committee was given four weeks to submit an action plan, but we have exceeded four weeks, basically because there was no fund from the ministry and I think the ministry is very broke!
“To make things happen, when we noticed that they were not calling for meetings, we now asked what the problem was and the reply they gave was that it was difficult to get fund as things are tight in the ministry.
“So as private sector players, we decided to provide a loan which would cover feeding and venue for the ministry reiimburse us whenever their is the money. This was like a soft landing for the meeting to go on.
“With that offer, we were able to meet two weeks ago and we again to round it off.’’
When asked how soon the paper on tourism action plan will be ready, Akingbogun said, “We are rounding off, like I said, this is the last meeting and it has been a good deliberation, so we are hopeful that something good will come out of it because the minister wants action plan, not just a paper work.
“The major things we are concentrating on are things that can easily be done and also we are looking on areas where government had in the past invested in, the game reserve is there, the zoos, stadia, theaters, museums among others.
“However, areas of low hanging fruits we have outlined and focused on are tourism sites that have already been developed and operational or need little investment to reactivate a full fledge operation, and we have them across the country.
“We are looking at areas like the wildlife, parks, stadia, national theaters and cultural centres, which have become under-ultilised and losing their values.”
Akingbogun added “we are also looking at those areas of businesses where some private sector have invested greatly, but having problem with state governments, just like what the Managing Director of Tarzan Jetty and Boat Services, Mr Ganiyu Tarzan Balogun is experiencing in Lagos.
The FTAN president explained further, “Of course there are problems in the communiqué because of its bulky nature but we ‘ve already corrected all those things.
The committee member said they are on course with the mandates given to them, adding that the report will be submitted, but explained that it depends on the minister’s acceptance. This depends on what he expects, since he was the one that inaugurated the committee and he made it clear to us.
Akingbogun confirmed that the report will be submitted to the minister.