The Federal Republic of Nigeria has welcomed a standalone Ministry of Tourism.
The development was announced by the presidency in a statement containing the lists of the newly appointed ministers and their ministries.
The creation of the standalone ministry came after several calls by many stakeholders in the tourism industry on the government for the need to have a whole ministry dedicated to tourism for effectiveness in making tourism to contribute optimally to the Nigerian economy.
It would be recalled that tourism was given a full ministry under Olusegun Obasanjo regime, but was subsumed under the Ministry of Information and Culture under Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, a development that was highly criticised by industry stakeholders for its ineffectiveness in furthering the gains achieved by the previous governments in the industry.
Following the restoration of the Ministry of Tourism, Lola Ade-John, a banker and an IT expert, has been appointed a the minister.
Meanwhile, stakeholders in the Nigerian tourism industry have also commended the creation of a standalone Ministry of Tourism by President Bola Tinubu, while assuring that the development would reposition tourism and its overall impact on the nation’s gross domestic product.
The stakeholders described the action by the government as a move in the right direction because tourism is the lowest hanging fruit in the country in view of the dwindling oil revenue and urgent need for diversification of the economy.
Reacting to the development, Nkereuwem Onung, president, Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN), said, “We have to first congratulate and appreciate President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for listening to public opinion and ensuring industry representation”.
Also reacting to the development, Emmanuel Ele, CEO, Six Regions Hotels, said that the development is a right step in the right direction, but that it is not enough to create a ministry without the political will to move it forward, considering the challenges including security and the weak economy.
Modupe Oyebola, a tour operator, also expressed her excitement, saying that tourism can now breath, as stakeholders have a body to interface with on right policy formulation and implementation. With the ministry in place, the FTAN president said, “We need to create policies and drive traffic into our country. The value chain of tourism must be improved. The MDAs must be held accountable”.
Ele also advised that the country should avoid running the repositioned tourism ministry like the normal public sector enterprise. The industry looks forward to a collaborative working relationship with her and her team.
Story by Obinna Emelike