The Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN) has condemned the attack on Kajuru Castle and the killing of two tourists at the popular resort on April 19, 2019. FTAN president, Alhaji Saleh Rabo, who made the remarks in Abuja, said the association was saddened by the news of the banditry that led to the death of Ms. Faye Mooney, a British aid worker, and Mr. Matthew Oguche, a Nigerian, while visiting Kajuru Castle in Kajuru Local Government Area of Kaduna State.
He said, “We recommend the establishment of a Tourism Police to be deployed at popular tourist destinations in Nigeria. The idea of Tourism Police is not new, it is a tested policing structure currently being implemented at several international tourist destinations in Africa and the Westm including Egypt and United Arab Emirates. Additionally, we call on the Nigeria Police and Department of State Security to readily avail tour operators with armed escorts, as they move around with tourists in known flashpoints in Nigeria.”
Tourism is a significant contributor to Nigeria’s GDP and one of the largest employer of labour in Nigeria, as such, no effort should be spared to stabilise the industry. Government needs to prioritise Nigeria’s tourism industry by creating a stand-alone Federal Ministry of Tourism and Culture, so that issues of tourism development and operational policies would be expeditiously dealt with. The existence of a stand-alone tourism ministry would foster public and private partnerships, which is the globally accepted method of sustainable national tourism development and economic growth.
“On behalf of the organised private sector tourism business owners and operators in Nigeria, we hereby condole with the families of the two victims, both in Nigeria and the United Kingdom. We equally express our heartfelt sympathy with the families of the three Nigerian staff of Kajuru Castle who were abducted by the bandits, and call on security agencies to intensify efforts in rescuing them unhurt.
“The public may recall that the government recently deployed security agencies, including the military, to quell the recurring violent community crises in Kajuru Local Government in Kaduna State. It is unfortunate that the festering community crises have now escalated to this unprovoked attack on a popular tourist resort in Kaduna State”.
Saleh stressed that, as the federation representing tourism associations in Nigeria, “we understandably see the attack on tourists at Kajuru Castle as a heinous crime against the already struggling Nigerian tourism industry, for which our tourism businesses, nationwide, are being undermined by this wicked attack, even as Nigeria is regrettably labelled as an unsafe tourism destination.”
“As the private sector representatives, over the years, we have consistently called on both the federal and state governments to provide adequate security at every tourist site across Nigeria. This is necessary because, aside from the protection of Nigerian tourism sites and investments, tourism is an international service trade and social endeavour, which can improve Nigeria’s image globally. Hence, tourism businesses in Nigeria should be encouraged, not poorly protected. Insecurity in any country is anathema to tourism development,” he said.
The FTAN president described the attack on Kajuru Castle as a sad commentary and a glaring wake-up call on the government to immediately rise to the occasion and prevent a recurrence before it escalates and becomes entrenched in the country. He said such attacks on tourists would deeply hurt Nigeria’s tourism development initiatives and destroy the efforts already made to grow the brand as a cultural tourism destination.
He implored the tourism public not to lose faith in the safety of tourists at any Nigerian destination, pledging that FTAN would continue to support government’s efforts to secure the country and improve the environment for tourism operators in Nigeria.