By John Okeke
Federal Government has reiterated its determination towards revamping the Hospitality and Tourism industry in Nigeria, especially at this time when the world is facing the COVID – 19 pandemic to create more job opportunities for Nigerians.
Speaking at the 2020 National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism (NIHOTOUR) Annual Master Lecture Series with the theme “Sustaining the Gains of Hospitality and Tourism Research in a Changing World” The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed who was represented by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry Engr. Nebeolisa Anako said tourism remains one of the major drivers of economic prosperity.
Minister highlighted the importance of the tourism and hospitality sectors and urged for collaboration saying that there is no way tourism can thrive in Nigeria without the collaboration of the agencies.
According to him, this event is for us to review the efforts of stakeholders, who have contributed to the growth being experienced in the sector.
“It is an indication of collective commitment and political will needed for sustainable development of socio-economic gains of both sectors.
“Tourism is one key the sector to Mr. President and this administration in terms of programs that will help lift millions of Nigerians out of poverty.
“This sector had offered a large volume of low skilled jobs and employment, thereby employing a high percentage of women and youths.”
Minister lamented that Nigeria had not taken full advantage of the potential of the industry over the years, stressing that the sector would have contributed increasingly to the country’s Gross Domestic Products (GDP) and its economic growth.
Alhaji Mohammed equally expressed confidence in the DG NIHOTOUR to help in rejuvenating the Hospitality and Tourism industry at this time when the world is facing the COVID – 19 pandemic.
However, he commended NIHOTOUR for coming up with such a program that believed would provide a platform for stakeholders and policy-makers in the industry to proffer solutions.
He reiterated the important role of NIHOTOUR in training and producing the manpower requirement of the industry, especially at this point in time.
Also, speaking, the Senate Committee Chairman on Culture and Tourism Rochas Anayo Okorocha represented by Hon. Faisal Lawal promised the red chamber will leave no stone unturned to ensure the growth and development of the creative industry.
In his welcome addressed, the Director-General, NIHOTOUR said Alhaji Nura Kangiwa, said the organization’s Annual Master Lectures Series (NAMLS) was a critical component of the institute’s academic activity, which started in 2016.
Kangiwa expressed that the aim of the AMLS is to attract Tourism and Hospitality intellectuals who will provide informative, engaging, and thought-provoking lectures on myriad issues that are germane to the development of the Tourism and Hospitality sector in Nigeria.
“We are in a time of unprecedented crisis, the hospitality, and tourism industry needs to adapt and evolve to meet the ever-changing needs occasioned by this crisis.
“No doubt, the industry had to deal with different crises and viruses earlier.
“However, the magnitude of this present crisis and its devastating effects on operations, employees, and customers is unrivaled compared to previous crises.
“With unprecedented challenges faced by the hospitality industry in the COVID-19 era, it has dealt with the hospitality industry and academia with uncharted challenges.
“It also presented great research opportunities for hospitality scholars, who are now expected to shift their research focus to develop solutions for the industry.”
“The challenges faced by the industry at the present moment provides research opportunities for Hospitality and Tourism scholars to shift their research focus to develop solutions for the industry.”
He urged the participants to make use of the outcome of the gathering to solve the country’s economic problem.
Speaking also, the Director-General, National Council for Arts and Culture, Otunba Segun Runsewe said NIHOTOUR was an important organization, with special content in the marketing and promotion of the country’s tourism potential.
According to him, there is no amount of marketing NTDC or this country does without the content from NIHOTOUR that has professional such marketing amount to nothing that is why I said there is a need to support and recognize NIHOTOUR as the training arm of the industry in order to discharge its mandate.
He advised that nobody should be allowed to operate in the industry as a staff or employee without proper certification by the Institute.
“NIHOTOUR should serve as the professional certificate awarded to all personnel in the industry just as the law School is to Lawyers or Legal Practitioners.” He said
Meanwhile, some individuals who distinguished themselves in promoting and contributing to the growth of the Tourism and Hospitality Industry in general and for being supportive of the NIHOTOUR course, in particular, was bestowed with the award of Fellow of the Institute awardees include The Permanent Secretary FMIC, Engr. Nebolisa Anako; Senate Committee Chairman on Culture and Tourism, Senator Rochas Anayo Okorocha; Mrs. Patricia Narai Director Domestic Tourism FMIC; Chief Dr. C. C. Ezeudeh, President HOFA, and Alh. Nura Sani Kangiwa, DG NIHOTOUR.
After the opening session technical the session was chaired by Prof. Ghali Sheriff and Dr. Femi Akintunde, all of the University of Abuja, Nigeria where a total of 18 papers were presented at the conference/Zoom session
At the end of the paper presentations, Panelists noted the improvement in NIHOTOUR’s research writing and presentation. Observations were however made on how to improve in future presentations.