The Minister of Tourism in Nigeria Mrs Lola Ade-John, has been advised to interface with seasoned and experienced tourism professionals and practitioners in her stride at making headways in the ministry.
Amb. Wale Ojo – Lanre, in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on the sidelines of the Journalists’ Hangout held at the NUJ Press Centre, Ibadan on Sunday, said the new minister must realise that tourism is currently at zero level in the country as at today.
Ojo-Lanre, a foremost advocate for the creation of a stand alone Ministry of Tourism in Nigeria, expressed optimism that the minister will make significant improvements in the ministry by propelling it to a revenue generating port for the government.
He urged the minister to be proactive from the beginning by tying her wrapper firmly as the task ahead is tough, rough, harsh, but not insurmountable.
He counselled the minister to surround herself with competent, experienced, and professional tourism pundits that understand the nitty gritty of the tourism potentialities of Nigeria.
Ojo-Lanre pointed out that, “we are honoured by President Bola Tinubu for heeding our calls, the onus now lie on the minister to plant the ministry on a solid background and foundation to justify the vision of the creator and mission of the sector.
He urged the minister to commence her duty by first of all recognising the fact that tourism is private sector driven.
“Hence, she must be ready to collaborate and form a positive and productive synergy with members of the tourism private sector, who have been stoking the embers in Nigeria for many years.
“The minister must adopt a multi-vocal approach to tourism development via legal framework, policy direction and private sector collaborations.
“She should make her policy thrust known to the sectoral players, ask for inputs and carry them along from the commencement of her service as all hands must be on deck to build the tourism sector of this country to an enviable position on global tourism space within shortest possible time,”he said.
Ojo-Lanre lamented that the sector has suffered intolerable neglect in the past.
He stressed the need for the minister to identify Entry Point Projects, bring to life a workable and highly domesticated and truly Nigerian Tourism National Development Plan and National Tourism Policy as all these must be on ground for tourism to grow since we cannot build something on nothing.
He listed some tasks ahead of the minister with which to hit the ground running, to include: developing a comprehensive tourism policy and strategy for Nigeria.
“To involve identifying potential tourism products and destinations, setting goals and targets, and formulating plans to promote sustainable and inclusive tourism development.
“The minister needs to prioritise improving tourism infrastructure, including transportation networks, accommodation facilities, recreational facilities, and tourist attractions, which will enhance infrastructure that would make Nigeria more accessible and appealing to domestic and international tourists.
“To develop effective marketing and promotional campaigns to raise awareness of Nigeria as a tourist destination, which would involve leveraging various channels such as, digital marketing, social media, travel trade shows, and partnerships with international tourism organisations.
“To actively engage with the private sector to attract investments in tourism infrastructure and services, this must involve providing incentives, streamlining regulations, and fostering public-private partnerships to encourage tourism-related investments.
“To focus on building the capacity of the tourism workforce by providing training and education programs, to ensure that the industry has a skilled workforce capable of delivering high-quality services to tourists.
“The minister should prioritise sustainable tourism practices to minimise negative impacts on the environment, culture, and local communities.
“And this could involve developing guidelines and regulations for responsible tourism, promoting community-based tourism initiatives, and encouraging eco-friendly practices among tourism businesses.
“The minister should establish effective collaboration and partnerships with relevant stakeholders, including tourism associations, local communities, regional authorities, and international organisations.
“Engaging with stakeholders would help ensure a coordinated and inclusive approach to tourism development.