The former Governor of Cross River State, Senator Liyel Imoke, will be the guest speaker at the 2017 annual general meeting(AGM) of the Nigeria Association of Tour Operators (NATOP), which will hold on May 2 at the Renaissance Hotel Ikeja, Lagos. The theme of the one-day event is: “Positioning Tourism within the Nigerian Economic space”.
However, Liyel Imoke will be speaking on “The Building Blocks of Tourism Products” wherein he is expected to share his experience as a two-term governor of the leading tourism state in Nigeria and relive the challenges he faced organising the Carnival Calabar., now Africa’s biggest street party.
After last year’s meeting held in Calabar where Professor Pat Utomi spoke on the theme, “Tourism, the Low hanging Fruit in a Depressed economy” NATOP released a 10 point agenda to ginger tourism development in Nigeria. The document which has become the reference point since then, has introduced new expressions to the industry and stakeholders now talk about low hanging fruit, setting up the Presidential Council on Tourism and review of the Tourism Masterplan. In the document, NATOP also called for the creation of a stand alone Tourism ministry and while hosting the World Tourism Day on September 27 last year, it accused the government of lack of will to push tourism to its deserved height. This drew an instant response from the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed who responded that the government had the necessary will to move tourism forward.
NATOP also hosted visiting South Africa Tour Operators on a road show to Nigeria, to a city tour of Lagos which saw them doing a “Know Fela the Legend Tour” with visits to sites associated with the famous Black President and Music Maestro Fela Anikulakpo Kuti. Young and aspiring tour operators will be involved in a workshop themed, “Challenges facing the promotion of Tourism by the Youth”. NATOP observed that a lot of young tour operators are promoting domestic tours all over the country and needed to be encouraged with training and logistics support to enable them deliver on their mandate. President of NATOP, Nkereuwem Onung who is also the CEO of REMLORDS Tours, admitted that “these young ones are the future of tourism in Nigeria and we need to support and harness them for the sake of the nation.”