SETTING a new pace for the six year old National Tourism and Transportation Summit, the organiser of the flagship MICE platform has seen reason to make the inter-sectoral event for core stakeholders, to not only domestically meet minds and look for areas of collaborations but also create B2B for international participants.
According to the President, Institute for Tourism Professionals of Nigeria (ITPN), as well as organising committee of the National Tourism and Transportation Summit (NTTS), Chief Abiodun Odusanwo “in the last six years NTTS had played a prime role in the tourism and transportation value chain and also filling the MICE gap for the international stakeholders’ businesses.
“In this regards, we has now seen beyond the horizon that since the world have become a global market spectrum through the digital connectivity, it will be seamless to making the summit and expo have a borderless participants because the event we speak about has a global outlook.”
On whether there will be a need for a brand name to effect that, Odusanwo explained: “We actually considered that. In fact, in one of the editions, I think the third or so, we proposed changing it to international because, really, tourism itself is international.
“Talking of transport on a broader sense, it’s international; but then, we will have to look at that carefully if we can coin it to be Tourism and Transportation International Expo or International Tourism and Transportation Expo, which are two names we have patent for.
“Notwithstanding if you looking at the yearly turnout of event, it has now grown to have a blend of international flavour. We have embassies in Nigeria participating and strong attendees of international organisations.
“More importantly, we are focusing again on the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), which brings us the big picture of internationalizing the event. So we have to consider a lot of things looking band name. We have been known with the present title, and if anything will come not for this sixth
“In the fourth and fifth editions, we looked at AfCFTA, but this time we are now bringing in trade, which was not included in the previous editions.
“We now look at it, what is going to boost AfCFTA is the inter-African trade, inter-African production and consumption, which would now affect tourism and transportation. Because we have been focusing on tourism and transportation, we now felt that we cannot look at those two in isolation; thus the idea of AfCFTA is to promote inter-African trade, it will now enable us to boost the appeal, while we still look at the tourism and transportation aspect of it.
Odusanwo, who is optimistic of expansion the scope, reach and participants of the summit and expo said “In fact, there are so many institutions established for the actualisation and implementation of the AfCFTA. what we are now doing is practically to bring in some of these national and international institutions.
“I was in Accra last year and I visited the secretariat of AfCFTA and used the opportunity to invite the secretary general of AfCTAA. They will be coming in this year. .
“We are also working on bringing in the Africa Development Bank (ADB), and bringing in more of all those intra-African institutions so that they can let people understand the role they are playing and their own mandate.
What we did also was to make sure we bring in different agencies and organs of government. What we are also going to do is to get the African Union (AU) and organs within the AU, which are more involved this time around.
“We will also try and bring in a bit of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) as well. Then we can see how to further build synergy on existing discussions.
“What we are also trying to do is to do our research and find out what other fora that AfCTAA is being discussed, because we are not the only one focusing on it.
We started with tourism and transportation.
“There are other aspects of trade and industry, looking at different aspects of it. We will see how we can invite them in to take part so that the outcome of their deliberations at different times can now be brought to bear, since we cannot.”
Looking back at the turnout of event and the pandemic period and how the NTTS had strategically stabilised, the president ITP said that the last few years have been generally been interesting in the world. “We had COVID 19, we have had other things, but we have never cancelled any edition. What we are trying to do this year is to do a compendium for the first five editions. We want to compile and see what has actually been discussed and what are the effects those events have had.
“Last time around, apart from the private sector, we had 34 MDAs in the inter-ministerial organising committee. In addition to that, what this has done for us, is that we now have a focal person from these MDAs that would see how they could now implement the outcome, particularly as it affects their own agency.
“So, that is how we can now begin to see the implementation of such outcomes of the summits. And we have been successful, so much so that to some MDAs, they now have the summit as one of their listed annual events.
“I believe it is captured in one or two agencies’ budgets. Over the years, we have established mutual understandings with some agencies, whereby we have some focal persons for liaising and discussing.
“Through the summit, we have now been included as key stakeholders in many other agencies, other sectors like aviation, transportation, works and so on. When they now organise their programmes, they invite us as key stakeholders. This would not have happened without the summit.
“Before the summit started, people were seeing tourism as that distant industry which they may or may not have a lot to do with. However, because of the summit, we have made so many organisations, institutions and agencies to see how relevant tourism is, not only to the economy, but also how it can bring marginal changes to the life of business owner as an industry with multiple value chain sector with different role for them to play.
“For example Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), used to believe that they had little to do with tourism. Now they can see their relevance to tourism. Ditto for customs.
“As far as they were concerned, they were to just look into what comes in, now they have become more informed about tourism. An interesting one is the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), who have been very active.
“Through the summit, they now have better understanding of why they are important to the tourism industry. How their working with the tourism industry will be of benefit to them even to the point of helping them achieve their mandate.
“Firstly, in order to control immigration, you need to work with those who have got premises like the hotels, where most immigrants stay. So, there is need for collaboration. Even then, they are there to promote inter-Nigeria movement. If they don’t encourage movement of persons, they have less work to do. They also need to make sure they don’t discourage legitimate travellers from coming into the country.
“They have now realised that one, for them to actually go and expand, they need to work with the tourism industry. Two, the last one we did, which has actually gone across now, is that they say, ‘listen, whenever you have this your major event, we are going to give you a desk, or somebody will dedicated to welcome your international visitors.’”
“So, these are some of the benefits of the summit. Yes, it is going to take a long time for some of the outcomes of the communiques to be implemented, but as we are going slowly and gradually, we are going to be achieving that.”
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