The Management of the National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism (NIHOTOUR) have announced their hosting of the Gastronomy Festival, at the sprawling Abuja International Conference Centre, on the 16th and 17th of June 2023. This year’s Gastronomy Festival is the third consecutive food and beverage exhibition and sampling event annually organized by NIHOTOUR, since 2021. The theme for this year’s event is “Culinary Arts: The Gate Way to Growing Tourism Destination”.
Disclosing highlights of the Gastronomy Festival in his office in Abuja, Nura Sani Kangiwa, Director General and Chief Executive Officer of NIHOTOUR said the event will feature, amongst others, an exhibition of indigenous gastronomy by exhibitors prominent among which are, the National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism (NIHOTOUR), that will as usual, showcase indigenous Nigerian cuisines from the six geopolitical zones of the country.
The National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism of Nigeria is established by an Act of Parliament to train, certify and register personnel in Nigeria’s Hospitality, Travel and Tourism sectors. Accordingly, NIHOTOUR Gastronomy Festival is conceptualized to upskill Nigerian gastronomes on the nitty-gritty of the preparation and presentation of foods, especially Nigerian traditional cuisines, with the objective of improving the expertise of personnel in the industry.
Moreover, due to the dearth of skilled culinary artists in Nigeria, NIHOTOUR Gastronomy Festival provides one of the best opportunities for hospitality and tourism stakeholders, students, and enthusiasts to have hands-on learning and perspectives on the sustainability of developing tourism destinations using activities of Gastronomy Festivals as promotional tools.
Further, with the preponderance of ‘Bush Meat’ hunting, using traps, in Nigeria, which inadvertently endangers wildlife and hinders Nigeria’s wildlife conservation efforts, the Gastronomy Festival will copiously advocate for Responsible Tourism practices in Nigeria.
Expectedly, NIHOTOUR’s Gastronomy Festival is one of the largest and most culturally eclectic culinary arts and related gastronomy events in Africa. The event attracts over 5000 visitors and industry stakeholders who participate in the experiential learning of food production processes and indulge in a free sampling of diverse Nigerian and international cuisines and beverages on display. Typically, the festival is laced with traditional gaiety and entertainment that highlight Nigeria’s rich cultural diversity, including musicals and dance choreography.
In the previous NIHOTOUR Gastronomy Festival, large corporate organizations, such as Fan Milk Danone, and the diplomatic community in Nigeria, including, China, Spain, and Ethiopia showcased their countries’ food culture and revealed processes of cuisines preparation – from farm to table. This year’s event will attract more foreign missions and corporate Nigeria brands involved in food and beverage processing, research, and development.
Following the successes of previous NIHOTOUR Gastronomy Festivals, activities slated for this year’s 2-day event include Nigerian food and beverage exhibition by NIHOTOUR and other leading restaurant franchises; international cuisines showcasing by foreign missions in Nigeria; cooking competition by Nigerian culinary schools, ‘Jollof War’ by select West African chefs; and investiture of NIHOTOUR Fellowship on outstanding individuals who have immensely contributed to the development of Hospitality and Tourism sectors in Nigeria.
There would also be conferences involving Nigeria’s leading tourism and hospitality stakeholders and business operators, as members of the Hospitality and Tourism Sector Skills Council of Nigeria (HTSSCN). Additionally, NIHOTOUR would deliver training and masterclass for members of the Association of Nigerian Journalists and Travel Writers (ANJET).
The facilitators slated for ANJET training include Otunba Olusegun Runsewe, the Director General of the National Council for Arts and Culture; Mr. Buky Ponle, the Managing Director of News Agency of Nigeria; and Peter Igho, the brain behind some of the most popular programs on Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) that enthralled households in the 1970s and the 1990s.
It is empirically evident that Gastronomy is currently one of the main tourism ‘push and pull’ factors that attract travelers to a destination. Hence, gastronomy has become a strategic tourist product that contributes to the employment of the host community’s youths and women, the creation of wealth for investors, increased revenue streams for governments and improving the value – chain of producing quality foods and processing the foods to hotels and catering outlets for tourism.