After three hours of intense deliberations at the maiden edition of the Association of Travel and Tourism Writers of Nigeria’s (ATTWON) quarterly parliamentary engagement with the Theme Tourism: Is it a Profitable Business with various stakeholders in the sector; it became imperative that there must deliberate action for this sector to break the tide in its business possibilities. Overall, it was agreed that YES, Tourism is a Profitable Business but if we are to make it work for all areas and dynamic openings of the sector especially from the grassroot community, there must be an home grown delicate yet deliberate action.
Mr Gbenga Sumonu who is the President of Nigeria Hotels and Catering Institute said that Tourism is a calling and government at all levels especially at the local level have a major role to play from our own Nigerian perspective. He said there are multiple business opportunities for the sector as a business but we must believe in it. He said if we want it to really be a business, we need to do the needful from the peoples end. He said as a matter of fact that “Tourism Recreates Wealth at the Community level. If we as a people also do the needful in paying tax, file returns, do due diligence of your business and pay or abide by the little laws that govern your business, product or brand, the wholistic business of Tourism will take a boost from government. A typical example he gave is that Lagos State Government has a list of all Hotels, joints, restaurants and everything in the hospitality sector and various discussions are ongoing to create an enabling environment to put structures that will promote hospitality and travel tourism in Lagos State. He said that the issue between Beach front owners and their excessive autonomy needs to be checked. He reiterated the fact that people in the business must see the business as a value attracting venture by doing global best practices and structures even to the point of loans payment, attracting Investors and government patronage.
Mrs Abiola Adelana, the Tourism Head at Sterling Bank, said her Bank over the years has a long term and short term and immediate vision to Tourism. She stated clearly that the Bank in the last 2 – 3 years has been engaging with the sector in various capacities. She mentioned that currently the bank is adding value to its Tourism entrepreneurs and different stakeholders who have value and they have also done 2nd level marketing, e-commerce and management trainings as well. They have a 3 fold approach. She reiterated that they cannot do it alone but that people and government must have a deliberate desire to make it a thriving business.
When asked about financing, it was agreed amongst stakeholders at the venue that Sterling has played a vital role in the sector. Mrs Adelana said funding will be available for businesses with a clear vision, value and commitment to its essence. She mentioned that there are various funding approaches but every business in the sector must be proven to be with a deliberate plan to succeed and grow.
Mr Abiodun Rabiu, the Chief Technical Adviser to the Executive Chairman of Ibeju-Lekki Local Government Area representing the Chairman, Hon. Engr. Abdullahi Sesan Olowa at the event spoke on the clear deliberate action of his Chairman and the local government with a clear master plan from the THEMES master plan of the Lagos State Government. He said the peculiar yet strategic nature of Ibeju-Lekki’s positioning in Tourism made the Chairman have a saying that “If people in Nigeria and West Africa plan vacation to Sao Tome and Principle and Trinidad and Tobago why can’t they create the enabling environment for people to plan thier vacation to Ibeju-Lekki in 2 – 3 years framework”. He spoke of the infrastructure plans to make the beaches accessible, create businesses communally for the people also the carnival is a collaborative effort between the government of Ibeju Lekki and private investors laying credence to the fact that tourism is profitable for as long as we can come up with initiative that is value driven. He said the government of Hon. Abdullahi Olowa considers Tourism as a business, this is why the possibilities and opportunities of the business are paramount in the creation of Ibeju-Lekki Carnival 2022. The salint areas of the carnival as a Tourism destination and investable potentials necessitated the Arts, Culture/Cultural dynamics, Hospitality, food, sports (Beach Soccer and Swimmimg), souvenirs etc.
He said the greatest part of the carnival is a deliberate action for it to be community focused. He said the deliberate action from local governments needs to see the various slants of tourism as a business for the people, with the people BUT carried collectively by the people as our OWN.
He said one major cardinal point of Hon. Engr. Abdullahi Olowa’s government was to run the local government as a people-oriented business entity with plans, visions, goals and a viable framework that makes it a Mini-city in the Maga-city plans of the THEMES of Lagos State. Hon. Abdullahi Olowa believes Tourism is a major revenue earner for the area and a deliberate action plan is being worked at to achieve its objectives amongst other key areas.
Captain, Emmanuel LordsGreat, raised a very clear path that was not considered as a major part of Tourism globally as a business. He said Capacity Building for the sector was underplayed and neglected. He has been a trainer via his Aviation and Tourism Academy has raised the bar in endearing the need to produce the next generation of business minded Tourism players. The changes in the trends of tourism today deserves a culture of excellence and deliberate apathy to failure and see the sector as a business haven. He said passion without renumeration leads to frustration if you don’t position yourself, business and brand as value adding. He said Tourism is clearly a thriving business especially from the area most considered by majority of its practitioners especially in Tour guides, Tour packages and Tours generally. He highlighted 5 areas out of 25 areas that are open for exploitation but is being overlooked which is Tourism and Tech.
Otunba Ayodele Olumoko, a seasoned Professional in Tourism and PR said that surely Tourism is a business but it should first be considered from our home grown culture specifiec and more so, building brand and products with a deliberate plan for it to be a business and not a sectoral activity. He said government has its role to play but investors and people with a passion or calling to tourism must work at if as a business.
The Speaker of the event, The President of ATTWON, Mr Ayo Omotosho with his gavel presented that from the various angles and focus of our deliberations, if the I’s have it that Tourism is a Profitable Business and clearly, the I’s have it. He mentioned that the quarterly event would be held in June this year and Parliamentarians should be ready to speak and position a path for the success of the sector.