… Promises Full Participation In 2024
President of the Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN), Nkwereuwem Onung, has commended members of the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA) and West Africa Tourism Organisation (WATO), as well as Wakanow, for representing Nigeria at the recently concluded World Travel Market (WTM) in London, United Kingdom. This is as he promised that Nigeria will be fully represented at next year’s event, with the full complement of the private sector operators and the government.
It would be recalled that for almost a decade Nigeria has not participated at the global leading travel and tourism exhibition and other international marketing platforms since the formal Director General of Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) now Nigerian Tourism Development Authority (NTDA), Mrs Sally Mbanefo, during the era of former President Jonathan Goodluck, pulled Nigeria out of all global platforms.
However, this year, Nigeria made a formal return to the World Travel Market as a country, with NANTA, led by its National President, Mrs Susan Akporiaye, and WATO, led by Ms Ola Wright, taking charge. Onung while reacting to this development commended the heads of the three organisations and their members for putting up a good performance at the event, which was held between November 6 and 8 in ExCel Centre, London, noting that it was gratifying to have Nigeria back at the global event again, with a pledge that 2024 edition will be bigger and better for the country, noting, ‘‘the country will be fully and better represented.’’
The event remains the biggest platform to showcase travel and tourism products by participants from across the world. WTM also showcases private sector operators in travel related industries, including; hotels, airlines, car rentals, tour operators, cruise lines. FTAN President explained that the absence of the Nigerian delegation over the years is a temporary setback, adding that the original plan of the Federal Government was for the Minister of Tourism, Ms Lola AdeJohn, to lead the Nigerian delegation to the trade show, in line with pledge made to the private sector operators in September this year of government’s renewed commitment towards growing the industry.
According to him, “the original plan was for the minister lead the Nigerian industry delegation to the trade show. The plan was for the Minister of Tourism, Ms Lola AdeJohn to lead a high-powered delegation of private sector operators in the industry to storm the 2023 WTM in London and fully showcase Nigeria’s products from all perspective. “However, due to unforeseen challenges, mostly having to do with the minister’s health, as well as logistics issues, that plan was temporarily shelved but not discarded.
“The government, from what I have been reliably informed will still fulfill its original plan for at the just-concluded WTM 2023 by the next edition in 2024. So, we expect that Nigerian travel and tourism operators will be given the room to demonstrate their capacities by way of showcasing their enormous travel and tourism products at the next edition of the trade exhibition in London. “I can assure that this was not planned. We had intended to make a bigger showcase of Nigeria’s tourism and travel potential but then there was a setback.
“The Federal Government, through the minister had assured stakeholders of an improved investment and participation in the industry, and it is not relenting on this assurance, hence, we assure that the next edition will gather an expanded delegation of operators to attend and showcase our offerings at the expo. “The WTM is still world’s biggest platform to meet and network among travel industry most reputable operators and we cannot afford to be absent at the expo come 2024.’’
The FTAN President further appreciated and lauded NANTA, WATO, Wakanow and others, who exhibited at the WTM 2023 trade show which gave Nigeria a good representation. ‘‘I appreciate NANTA and others like WATO, Wakanow, for the wonderful showcase on behalf of the Nigerian tourism operators. They indeed flew our flag really well from reports I have read on the trade exhibition. We hail them. And also, the WATO and Wakanow teams, which showed their presence during the event,” Onung said.
It would be recalled that earlier in September, this year, while receiving FTAN chieftains in Abuja shortly after her inauguration, Ade-John, disclosed that the Federal Government has recommitted to enabling private enterprise participation in growing the tourism sector of the country. The minister used the meeting to restate her task of making the tourism industry viable and attractive to private investors, which she said tops the list of focus she has been tasked with by President Bola Tinubu.
According to the minister, ‘‘tourism is set to take the number one space in revenue generation in the country,’’ which she stressed, can only be achieved through effective collaborations and result-oriented partnerships with private sector business and think-tank groups like FTAN. On the issue of carrying FTAN along in government attendance at international events, the minister assured that she is working closely with all the parastatals and the ministry to attend those events in order, ‘‘to tell the world that Tourism in Nigeria is back.’’