WTM Organising Body Applauds Nigeria’s New Tourism Initiatives

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Mbanefor with members of Ayan-De-First Drum Ensemble
Mbanefor with members of Ayan-De-First Drum Ensemble
Mbanefor with members of Ayan-De-First Drum Ensemble

WTM Organising Body Applauds Nigeria’s New Tourism InitiativesOrganisers of the World acclaimed Tourism and Travel exhibition, The World Travel Market, (WTM), has commended Nigeria for demonstrating strong determination and zeal to redevelop tourism and Travelling trade in Nigeria. The body gave a thumbs-up commendation kudos to  the country complimenting Nigeria’s appearance in 2013 exhibition as best ever.

In its ‘annual after event reports for 2013  exhibition,’  WTM  praised the current Director of Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation, (NTDC), Mrs Sally Mbanefor  for reviving what it described as  a failing conglomerate in Nigeria. The report implied a general atmosphere of  tourism paranoia in Nigeria after industry international observers had  given no hope it its last  peeping into Nigerian industry due to its  lack of physical action.

In its executive summary of the 2013 World Travel Market, the organising body commended the Nigerian government for finally waking up to reality and discovering the   importance of travel trade and tourism.

It summed up: “Fascinating Nigeria is the new brand to drive travel and tourism growth after years of neglect. The Nigerian government has finally realised the importance of travel and tourism as a strategic sector in the national economy”.

It commended the new regime of Sally Mbanefor for creating a new brand initiative called ‘Fascinating Nigeria‘, which it described as a positive move to revitalise a ‘struggling’ industry and developing its value chains.

The report claimed that the new tourism regime would reinvent creativity claiming: “This move aims to make travel and tourism a major contributor to the nation’s GDP and to boost non-oil revenues as Nigeria continues on its mission to diversify its economy out from its current reliance on oil exports”,

WTM report commended NTDC efforts, adding:” Other recent initiatives under the new leadership of  NTDC looks further to boost growth in travel and tourism including  joining the International Coalition of Tourism Partners (ICTP) which is aimed at forming alliances with emerging global travel and tourism giants and participating in international tourism trade fairs like WTM London and othere across the World alongside planning to associate with ITB Berlin.

The report is a direct indictment of the NTDC old leadership under Chief Olusegun Runsewe  which saw the industry as stagnant, being run as a one man owned industry which attracted  non-participation and inclusion by those that matters in the industry, both at home and abroad.

Mbanefor1The old regime was a blind participation with zero-marketing of the event which remained uncoordinated and unprofessionally handled, despite the country committing huge amount of money to host Nigeria’s participation.

WTM 2013 saw a complete transformation at the Nigeria’s stand with influx of international tourism stake holders taking stage to watch Nigeria events at the fair, with interest and zeal.

It was the first time the nation’s participation got a huge boost with genuine intentions and positive prospects for the future. “Our cultural tourism assets are our strength and therefore must be promoted  effectively to attract those that are interested in what we have to sell” claimed Sally Mbanefor .

According to her, while making a speech at the launching of Nigeria’s new tourism initiative and attraction  rebranding, tagged  ” Fascinating Nigeria”, the need to establish the expectations of visitors to the nation must be established. She added that there  researches  and studies to be undertaken in order  enable the country  open her  eyes more on ways to meet the new entrants into the nation’s tourism needs.

Edem Duke, Minister for Tourism, Culture and National Orientation launched the new  Federal Government re-brand  initiative last year after progress in Nigeria tourism had been brought to a stand still due to lack of proper  handling and blind inactivity.

The Minister, launching the new slogan  in company of  Mrs. Sally Mbanefo, had hoped that  the tourism brand identity would breed  a new era of tourism creativity , adding that Nigeria, as the most fascinating country in the world in terms of weather, beautiful landscape, literature, music, dance, festivals, resilient and fun-loving people would witness a new tourism direction re-awakening .

Mbanefor  however has brought the awakening, creating WTM attendance record last year and promising a better outing in 2014. Last year, more than five African countries visited the Nigeria stand  as ideal model platform for African tourism,  to show appreciation of Nigeria’s lead and treating  visitors to the Nigerian pavilion to mouth-watering performance in cultural shows to the delight of many onlookers. She revealed Nigeria’s readiness to negotiate regional partnership with other African nations in order to engage in fruitful partnership.

Cultural Performance in WTM 2013
Cultural Performance in WTM 2013

She spoke extensively about Nigeria’s tourism  assets describing the nation and the people  as well gifted, generous,  hospitable and ever willing, those assets she claimed   make more valued property to the nation’s travel trade, adding that the warm and friendly nature and numberless tourism sites , arts, music and entertainment and number of festivals and cultural celebration all make Nigeria number one  tourist attraction  in the World..

More than 150 tourism member nations took part in the 2013  WTM exhibition and that number this year has risen to 183.