The elective Annual General Meeting of the National Association Tour Operators (NATOP) held in Jos, Plateau State was not only an event to change and renew the practical commitment of the leadership of the only tour and destinations’ experience promoters, but also to strategically joined the host state in it new direction to regain it ace as one of the foremost tourism capital of Nigeria.
The event withdrew participants across the country with stakeholders and other allied industry players in the value chain of the tour business converged on the historic1939 established Hill Station Hotel, Jos on April 9, 2018 to assess, deliberate and chart a way forward in a seminar theme Security Challenges and Promotion of Tourism in Nigeria, delivered by President, Association Industrial Security and Safety Operators of Nigeria, Dr Ona Ekhomu.
The seminar theme which was generally applauded and described as timely in correcting the erroneous western stereotype and exaggeration about Nigeria when an infinitesimal area or community experience security challenges.
However, most attendees saw the seminar as platform fashioned to inform and educate stakeholders in the tourism industry on how to consolidate on their many efforts as private drivers of the industry and also calling the government to create enabling environment through infrastructural development and security.
The organisers of event which hosted who is who in the tour business among other allied players, also used the platform to honour deserving stakeholders, in the likes of the host governor, Right Honourable Lalong, the state present and former commissioners of tourism, Mrs Weli and Hon Mwankon peter John respectively; Chairman, Carnival Calabar Commission, Gabe Onah; late Madam Bentu; Special Advise on Tourism to the Governor of Plateau State, John Best Likita; South African Tourism; Mrs Ladi Dakwo among others.
Speaking at the event, the Governor of Plateau State, Rt. Hon. Simon Bako Lalong, represented by his deputy said “Your choice of Plateau State as the host of this year’s NATOP AGM is an open attestation of the tourism credentials of the state and even a greater affirmation of the commitment of our rescue administration to the development of tourism in the state.
Lalong explained that “The Plateau State Ministry of Tourism Culture and Hospitality together with all her subordinate agencies have in the last two years made concerted efforts in ensuring that through the Annual Cultural and Entertainment event Tourisms, which have held in the state, that activities are created to keep Plateau State in the Tourism Calendar of events in the Country.
“The Plateau State carnival, road show and music fiesta are experiencing and receiving National recognition and I can assure you it will soon rival the Calabar Carnival and Carniriv.
“The mountain hiking, high altitude sports and others alike which fall within the Sports Tourism sector are gaining relevance by the day and we are providing an environment for tourist as well as resuscitation efforts we are putting into creating destinations for tourist sites within the state.”
The governor commended the leadership of NATOP for the choice of Theme for the tourism conference;“Security Challenges and the Promotion of Tourism in Nigeria” and “Destination Marketing” as a Sub Theme saying the theme was timely and identifies appropriately with the major challenge that the sector is experiencing.
According to Lalong, “Insecurity everywhere in the world affects the tourism and travel sector; should we not address our local and national security challenges, we can as well bid farewell to the income generating potentials of the tourism sector.
“Plateau State has also has not relented in her pursuit of the agenda of peace, security and good governance.
“No responsible Government can afford to let the economic potentials of the Tourism and Travel Industry to remain fallow, and this underscores the new focus of our Government. For a Sector that is one of the World’s largest industries, with global economic contribution of about 8.27 trillion USD in 2017; representing almost 10 per cent of Global GDP and supporting over 277 million jobs which translate to one job out of eleven employments worldwide, Tourism and Travels remain a Sector that must be given attention.
Giving his foreign experience in travel market, the governor recounted “In November 2017, I had the opportunity of leading a delegation from the state to the World Travel Market in Excel London and it provided me the opportunity of seeing the potential of the Travel Market to connect attendees and network of tour practitioners, key industry buyers and influencers for the purpose of tourism destination marketing.
“I am envisaging that we can localise this experience using the Nigerian Association of Tour Operators to create a convergence for the demand and supply chain in the tourism and travels sector.
I am particularly gladdened by the fact that in your letter of invitation, you noted that your desire with the choice of Plateau State for this conference is so you can highlight the position of Plateau, as one of the most peaceful unique destinations for Tourism in Nigeria.
“let me once again thank you for allowing Plateau to host this AGM; the loud Statement you have been making with this event is that Plateau is with its unique geography and natural endowment a peaceful hub of tourism. I am sure at the end of this conference, you will all have better stories to tell from your visits to a few tourism sites in the state.
Also In her address, the state’s Commissioner of Tourism, Culture, Arts and Hospitality, Mrs Tamwakat Weli, who was described by all and sundry as an hospitable, energetic and full of life said Plateau State is practically ready to take tourism to the next level.
According to Weli, “ The Plateau State is serious in the development of tourism in the state that is why we have embarked on massive construction of road network and in addition, we have put in place institutional and organisational frameworks to engender and encourage public and private partnership in the tourism and hospitality sector.
“Many countries in volatile regions in the world today have continue to enjoy unpredictable level of tourism in spite of their insecurity challenges. It is not a hidden fact that over the years, that the reputation of our dear state, Home of Peace and Tourism’ had been negatively affected as a result of past crisis which have been buried below the state.
“However, this sector is coming up in the rescue administration of Governor Lalong., who came with a vision and against all odds, change the narratives about tourism on the plateau. He has taken conscious and deliberate steps to place Plateau State on its rightful position on the world tourism map.
“Recently, the state signed an MoU for a long term leases of Jos town hotel with private sector investors. We are currently in discussion with other private sector investors wishing to lease other government own hotels and tourist attractions in the state.
“The state in the near future will provide organisations the opportunities to appoint themselves different tourism attractions and potential so that they can manage them with confidence both nationally and to the outside world.
…Bilkisu Abdul emerges new NATOP National President
Abuja based Hajia Bilkisu Abdul of BBOG Travels was elected the National President while Lagos based Ime Udo was elected the Vice President.
In her acceptance speech Hajia Bilkisu extended a hand of fellowship to the two other candidates she defeated in the elections.
Also a new Board of Trustees was constituted at the AGM who include Malam Kabiru Malan former NANTA President, Mrs Fatima Garbati the Former President of NATOP, Mr Jemi Alade pioneer tour operator, Chairman Carnival Calabar Commission, Gabe Onah; immediate past President of NATOP, Nkereuwem Onung; Iyom Josephine Anenih and Mr Ikechi Uko a travel expert.
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