NATOP urges FG to restore tourism ministry

·Honours Amachree, partners Carnival Calabar

Again, the Nigerian Association of Tour Operators (NATOP) has called on the Federal Government  to restore the tourism ministry as an entity for the sector to have the desired attention.

The president of the association, Mr Ekereuwem Onung who rallied support of the private sector made the call at a celebration to mark the 2016 World Tourism Day in Lagos,said tourism needs a monumental attention now that it remains the lowest hanging fruit at the time of recession.

“Government should restore our tourism ministry so that, according to the Nigerian National Anthem, ‘The labours of our heroes past shall never be in vain.”

As part of the day’s programme, one of the living founding fathers, Chief Amachree who fought to raise tourism in Nigeria in particular was honoured.

NATOP also used the event to herald its partnership with the Carnival Calabar, another milestone in positioning and promoting Nigeria’s topmost cultural brand and Africa’s biggest street party.

The event saw full representation from Cross River State Governor’s envoy for the Carnival Calabar led by the Carnival Chairman, Mr Gabe Onah, Mr Ken Aklar and a team of the Carnival Marketing Consultants.

Also the coordinator of the Team Africa, Ikechi Uko, tracing the gallant efforts of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who set up the tourism ministry, the proposal that was adopted by UNWTO to adopt September 27 as World Tourism Day which was first suggested by a Nigerian, Mr Ignatius Atigbi and the effort of a travel journalist, Mr. Lucky George, who travelled all the way to Madrid to prove with evidence to the world body that Atigbi deserved recognition.

Uko spoke on the successive building efforts by the past Directors General of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) in that sector from Omotayo Omotosho to Otunba Segun Runsewe, other contributing speakers lamented the dearth and downturn of events in the sector for the past few years as well as the bad omen posed by the scrapping of the tourism ministry by the President Muhammadu Buhari led administration.

For the Carnival Calabar team, the Chairman, Carnival Commission, Gabe Onah, said“For us at the Carnival Calabar we are happy that the import of the World Tourism Day is dawning on all the sectors that make tourism to tick.

“A product cannot be a product until it is marketed. And one of the strong pillars of a tourism experience is the stakeholders’ concern which is the platform that takes it to the consumer.