As the upper legislative chamber of the National Assembly concludes the screening of nominated ministers by President Muhammadu Buhari, the Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN) and Association of Nigerian Journalists and Writers of Tourism (ANJET) have renewed calls for President Buhari to reinstate the defunct Ministry of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation. Commenting on this development, the two bodies in separate statements disclosed that there is no other time but now for Nigeria to have a ministry of culture and tourism at the federal level if the country and the present government ever hope to harness the potentials of the sector given the abundant opportunities that the creative industry and tourism present at this time.
According to ANJET, it will be a disservice to tourism and culture and a far cry of the commitment of the federal government’s quest to diversifying the country’s economy if it continues to ignore the calls for the defunct culture and tourism ministry that was created in 1999 by former President Olusegun Obasanjo and later merged with information in 2015 by President Buhari on assumption of officer to be brought back, as stand alone.
The body of travel and tourism writers stated that example of countries reaping from the windfall of tourism and culture has shown that the only way out of the current challenge is to have a dedicated ministry at all levels for the creative industry and tourism in order to bring about a coordinated national approach and focus to bear on the sector.
It further stated that the experiment with the information and culture ministry in the last four years did not achieve the desired goal as culture and tourism were treated as second fiddle to information. As a result of this, opportunities to develop the sector and upgrade the creative industry were missed and sacrificed on the altar of politics.
The body also stated that there is no other better time than now when insecurity in the land has gotten to an alarming level that the country needs a separate ministry for culture and tourism, with the minister in-charge focusing on the best mode of harnessing communication and marketing mix to drive the sector, infuse confidence in the source markets, both domestic and international, through the appropriate messaging mode.
Stressing that having a minister of information and culture, who most often see himself as a government spokesperson, as it played out in the last four years, rather than a sales person and ambassador of tourism for the country and the creative industry, therefore better placed to shift through happenings in the land and present information with the right register and channel to impose confidence in the country, will not bode well for the country and the sector