Boycott: FTAN Commends Members’ Unity Bid On UNWTO Conference

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Mr Nkereuwem OnungThe National President of the Federation of Tourism Association of Nigeria (FTAN), Mr. Nkereuwem Onung has commended the solidarity support by members’ associations under the federation to the prompt boycott of the recent solo host of the UNWTO conference in Nigeria.

According to Onung, the industry is better managed and promoted to everyone’s benefit if we have one vision, speak with one voice and build agendas to score a sustainable goal that aligns with the public and private sector partnership (PPP) initiatives.

“standing on the boycott order is a strength for us all to show the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed that everyone has a major role to play in tourism development and growth, and no one is an island in building a grand vision for tourism.

Onung  explained that “One of the objectives of the conference as stated is that it will “offer a unique networking opportunity for industry players, practitioners, government officials and policymakers to debate contemporary and future issues, as well as exchange ideas and information relating to tourism, culture and the creative industry.”

“In another article on the UNWTO’s website published on September 25, 2021, titled Let’s Talk: Inclusive Growth in Tourism, ‘Inclusive Growth’ is defined as growth that is distributed fairly across society and creates opportunities for all.

“Recall also that one of the UNWTO’s priorities is – Building Partnerships: Engaging with the private sector, regional and local tourism organizations, academia, civil society and the UN system to build a more sustainable, responsible and competitive tourism sector.”

He explained “Since we can only speak for the organized private sector as the umbrella body in the industry, it is only wise to ask how the UNWTO achieved all of the above in the just concluded conference.

“For the purpose of those who are not part of the Federation but have the interests of the industry at heart, I will provide a little context to the reason behind the ultimate decision to boycott the conference.

“Because we understand the importance of the relationship between the government and the private sector for the growth and sustainability of the tourism economy, we have attempted on several occasions to dialogue with the Minister of Information and Culture without success.

“The Minister for about eight years has ignored the private sector and then decides to lobby to bring the conference to Nigeria and expects the private sector to attend without liaising to infuse some private sector content to engage and stimulate activities afterward.

“While we appreciate the original intention of the conference by UNWTO, we strongly believe that what the conference brought to Nigeria is not a conundrum nor an enigma, it is a straightforward issue. It is about the National Theater Project.

“We do not know about any other reason for the conference because the Minister has no vision for the industry that we can connect with nor is there an agenda of the government known to the sector.

“We have continued to demand clear-cut policies that will grow tourism and none has been presented. We also observed that we have not benefited from any of the many UNWTO-assisted projects that drive and transform tourism. We, therefore, thank all members and tourism Stakeholders who stood by the Federation.

Please, note that FTAN speaks for the industry but not all leaders/ stakeholders are members of FTAN. That is why we held press conferences in the early days and publicized our intention to boycott the conference to leave room for those who would need any clarification or more information.

Part of the functions of the Federation is to speak for and direct the affairs of member associations. An example is FTAN going to court on behalf of the Nigeria Hotels Association. Even though not all sectors/ stakeholders took part in the decision, the interest of the entire hospitality industry was protected.

Again, we sincerely thank the stakeholders who stood by us. And seeing as a majority of industry stakeholders complied with this directive, we are encouraged.

Going forward, the Federation will develop a wider ring of consultation.

The question at this point is, has the conference delivered a blueprint for Tourism in Nigeria?

Has it accounted for the pending covid-19 palliatives to the tourism industry? Will there be better funding for the industry? Will the minister attend the next private-sector tourism event?

“These questions need answers as we will hope and pray that the new regime in 2023 will not leave the tourism industry an orphan,” Onung added





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