Hitherto to the recent past, those managing the tourism and aviation sectors in Nigeria had seen each other as rivals in competition. In other words they have been operating as if the two sectors have nothing in common which is a far departure from what is obtained in other climes where the two sectors are managed side by side.
Obviously, the two sectors need each other because the role each plays is aimed at selling the potentials and image of the country for a better goal.
Because the two sectors play a major role in the economic strength of any country through the opening of the country and its potentials to foreign investors for the economic gains of the country, therefore, no serious country around the world toys with these two sectors which are managed as one in many countries around the world.
While in actual sense, the two sectors are more or less seen as a pair of ‘Siamese twins’ in developed countries with their success stories traced to the vibrant economies being enjoyed by such countries, Nigeria is still lagging behind in this area. Up till now, it seems those in charge of the two sectors in Nigeria are yet to really have a grasp of the importance of the two as witnessed in the manner officials from both end do things in isolation as if the two can operate successfully without each other.
Prior to the recent past, it was very rare to find the two sectors come together and find a common ground on how to share ideas or put the government under a serious pressure that will help transform tourism and aviation in the country.
While officials in tourism personalise their ideas, those in aviation act as if they can achieve their goals of running the sector in isolation forgetting that it is only an active aviation sector that can drive active tourism.
However, there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel for the two sectors with the steps being taken by the present leadership of the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA), being led by Bankole Bernard, who has continued to emphasise the need for the two sectors to come together.
Bankole who through his positions in the past weeks has shown that he actually understood the importance of the two to the development of any country, has argued that the only way Nigeria can urgently free itself from the shackles of the ongoing economic recession is to merge tourism with aviation.
He described the marriage of tourism and aviation as a progressive partnership and policy decision that has helped other nations in the world to rebound on all indices of development.
While attributing the poor state of the country’s airports presently to the failure of Nigeria’s subsequent governments to recognise the huge benefits inherent in active tourism, he urged that tourism be brought to aviation sector as a way of helping Nigeria to “power domestic tourism and grow the huge potentialities of Nigeria as a global tourism destination.”
Without going too far, Bankole rightly cited some African countries like Ethiopia, Egypt and Kenya who through key attention and support to their national airlines helped power their tourism.
Directing his speech to the Nigeria’s minister of state for aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, the NANTA President declared: “Mr Minister Sir, we are tired of the lip service paid to tourism and aviation development in Nigeria and as key players in Nigeria aviation downstream sector, we have seen what aviation powered tourism agenda has done for other countries and Nigeria cannot allow other Africa countries to overshadow us and use our failings to gain ground ahead of us in this business.”
While commending the NANTA President for spearheading this national agenda which others before him could not, it is hoped that those in aviation will join hands with those in tourism to see each other as partners.
The need for the sectors to come together becomes pertinent following the dwindling fortune of oil which a well coordinated tourism and aviation policy can really replace.
The time has come for those in charge of the country’s aviation and tourism to realise that if the government can shift attention to these two sectors, the potentials inherent there would have conveniently displace the hitherto overrated gains of crude oil.
Therefore, the official should drop their toga of any supremacy and put to task their thinking faculty as this will greatly help Nigeria to cushion the effect of the present economic hardship.