Abuja, 7/24/2023 – Governor Umo Eno of Akwa Ibom has called for a comprehensive review of the national policy on tourism, emphasizing the need to fully exploit the immense potential within the sector. Speaking at the 26th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN) in Abuja, the governor highlighted the importance of updating existing laws to foster rapid development in the industry.
The governor, represented by his deputy, Sen. Akon Eyakenyi, articulated his vision for a thriving tourism sector in Akwa Ibom, one that could bring about substantial economic benefits and job opportunities for the state’s residents. He stressed that the global tourism sector was constantly evolving, and Nigeria could not afford to rely on outdated policies to drive the 21st-century, technology-driven industry.
“In order to achieve significant development in tourism, we must address the challenge of insecurity, as insecurity and tourism development are mutually exclusive,” Governor Eno stated. He urged authorities to focus on tackling security concerns to build a reputation as a safe and secure country, attracting more tourists and investors.
Governor Eno pointed out that the existing legal framework for tourism needed to be revamped to encourage both foreign and local investments in the sector. He emphasized the urgency of tailoring the legal framework to cater to the dynamic and ever-changing landscape of the global tourism industry.
“The global tourism sector is not stagnant. It is growing and evolving almost with the speed of light so can’t afford to use policies which emanated from old thinking to drive a 21st-century ICT-driven sector. We must tailor our legal framework to encourage investments in the sector, existing laws must be reviewed and new ones enacted to encourage direct foreign investments and the participation of more local investors in the sector,” he said.
Governor Eno further emphasized the need for quality infrastructure to underpin development in this sector. Drawing inspiration from the success of Dubai’s tourism sector, he called for a bold investment in infrastructure, encompassing airports, roads, seaports, railways, and more, to establish Nigeria as a top-notch tourist destination.
“For instance, the Dubai tourism sector is largely driven by bold infrastructure. From the quality of our airports to roads, seaports, railways, and other infrastructure, the signature of excellence must be unmistakable,” the governor explained.
While acknowledging the hospitable nature of Nigerians, Governor Eno emphasized the importance of creating a national culture in support of tourism. He urged aggressive sensitization on attitudinal changes towards development in the secotor, aiming to make Nigeria a global leader in hospitality.
“Nigerians are no doubt very hospitable people. But we can do better because we are competing with the rest of the world. Government should aggressively sensitize Nigerians on attitudinal change in the direction of tourism development so much so that we should be ranked the best in the world in hospitality,” he asserted.
Governor Eno also stressed the significance of corporate branding of Nigeria to make the country more attractive to the world. He highlighted the need for conscious efforts in projecting a positive image of Nigeria, showcasing its rich cultural heritage, natural beauty, and friendly populace.
“We must be intentional about the image we project to the world, hence the need for a conscious corporate branding of Nigeria to make it more attractive,” he said.
In conclusion, Governor Umo Eno’s call for a comprehensive review of the national tourism policy reflects his vision to unlock the untapped potential in the tourism sector in Akwa Ibom. By addressing security concerns, investing in quality infrastructure, and promoting a culture of hospitality, the governor aims to attract more tourists and investors to the state and create a sustainable, thriving industry that benefits both locals and visitors alike.