By Mashe Umaru Gwamna
The Director General, Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation(NTDC), Folorunsho Coker, has identified effective budgeting and funding as necessary ingredients that drives tourism.
Coker made the disclosure yesterday in Abuja, at a press briefing to set the pace for 2020.
While stating how his agency fared in 2019 he said, “if you didn’t see much government activities in the last year, it was due to the late release of capital.
He said the 40% of the NTDC fund in 2019 was released to the Corporation by November and wondered how the Corporation would cope up under that condition.
“we cannot categorically said NTDC didn’t perform in 2019. We did our best with what we got “.
“Also, it is good to note that tourism activities don’t belong to the government alone but the private sector.
The hotels, cinemas, travels and others are private sector owned and driven, but government tends to creates the enabling environment.
Government also invested on infrastructures, power water in ensuring that the industry has what it need to progress.”
Consequently, he said NTDC break boundaries by going out of their normal level to create an outstanding’Master Brand Tour called Nigeria Flavour event’.
”NTDC shouted so much on what needed to be done about creating a master brand to exist and it has beautifully come to stay”.This would go a long way to only create employment, but also contribute immensely to the economy.
The DG said “when people hear of Nigeria Flavour, what goes through their thinking is food. Nigeria Flavour cut cross wearing Ankara clothing, Head tie gear, Hair,Nollywood, churches and Afro music all have Nigeria Flavour as their sauce. Tour Nigeria is an experience to behold. NTDC held the last one in Abuja, the next one will be held in Calabar.”
He said the experience of Abuja Nigeria Flavour was held at central parks in Wuse 2, which opened windows of opportunities of various events held at the park for the last 3-4months.
He added that aside local tourism of castle among many others, “we have vibrant AfroMusic in Africa. Those are private sector entities to promote local locations.
“We need to wake up in Nigeria not just focusing on renting events centers for weddings but those centers can be used for various festivals such as host Hair festival”.
Sharing more light on the brand,he furthered explained that Nigeria flavour is a simple template that Local Government Area Council can run the events.
”The council can decide to run it in a micro- scale target for 500, 5000 and 50,000 people in one location or in multiple locations. This amazing events can done during Christmas, Easter, Sallah, summer, and winter.
“You see NTDC is promoting the best of Nigerian culture. If well enhanced, the sector would go a long way to not only create employment, but also contribute immensely to the economy.
He therefore disclosed that he plans to extend Tour Nigeria to each geopolitical zone in the country.
Speaking on 2020 agenda, he maintained that 2020 has no different from 2018, 2019 and 2020. “The problem NTDC is facing has not changed, so why should we run new programmes we cannot fund.
“We thank God that this year we have a better appropriation than last year and we are hopeful that we will get cash flow for all our activities.”
When asked about investing in tourism in other states, Coker said NTDC cannot afford to invest there due to lack of funds. “But we can synergise with each state.
For us to be able to invest in such projects, NTDC would need 4million dollars a year for the next five years to achieve that.
He recalled that Senator Rochas Okorocha mention at the floor of the senate that 4million dollars was needed for intervention in tourism.
“Tourism is the largest employer of labour which strategically women and youth are partakers. Tourism brings money whether within Nigeria or west Africa. It is like oil and export, Music, films are parts of the components in our cultural heritage that can do such”.
Taking about resorts , the NTDC boss said “I love resorts and I want to build them. That desire has enabled us to apply to Federal Capital Development Authority(FCDA) for a plot of land.
“Aleast let see Abuja having a gallery, museums. Even if I don’t have the budget of money today that is our deepest desires”.
He also talked on the latest about the Bill the Corporation has sponsored at the National Assembly and the presidency. According to him, after assenting to the Bill by the Upper and Lower houses, when it got to the presidency, it directed that some amendments be made to avoid coming into conflict with other arms of the government before he would fully assent to it. The amendment, according to him has been made and taken to the presidency, just as he said he was optimistic that the Bill would scale through, which if done, he went on, would go a long way for the sector.