Travel agencies brainstorm on tourism potential at March 21 Lagos AGM

President of NANTA, Bernard Bankole. PHOTO:

Travel agencies in the country are set to brainstorm and map out potential in the tourism sector that can help the economy especially at a time of recession.
The agencies, under the aegis of National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies (NANTA), re-emphasised that local tourism is a low handing fruit for economic prosperity, if given the collective support and patronage it requires.
NANTA President, Bankole Bernard, who spoke ahead of the 41st non-elective Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the body, said the economic downturn avails opportunities for all to look inwards and find lasting solutions to common problems.
Bankole noted the situation informed the theme of the AGM: “Tourism in a recessed economy: The way forward”, to draw stakeholders together and harmonise thoughts to have a voice on tourism growth.
He added that NANTA, being a dominant voice in aviation sector, is leading the charge beginning with the one-day general meeting, slated for March 21, 2017 at Sheraton Hotel, Lagos.
Expected at the event are former President, Olusegun Obasanjo; Information and Culture Minister, Lai Muhammed; Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika; Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi (Ojaja II) and  former Director General of Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Dr. Harold Demuren.
Others are the Director General of the Nigerian Institute of Tourism and Hospitality (NIHOTOUR), Chika Balogun and the Ag director general of Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Mariel Rae Omoh among other dignitaries.
First deputy president of NANTA and chairperson of the AGM organising committee, Susan Akporaiye, said the theme was timely, especially at a period travel agents in Abuja were switching to local tourism promotion, to survive the six weeks of no-activity around the second busiest airport in the country.
Akporaiye, said instead of groaning at the temporary closure of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), her members are shifting from selling tickets for commissions to identifying and promoting tourism destinations in Kaduna and its environs.
She added that the shutdown of Abuja airport is, therefore, a blessing in disguise for her members, who are beginning to look inwards. Contrary to the plans to close down offices, she said, travel agencies are exploring opportunities in local tourism to encourage people to travel to Kaduna and explore its tourism potential.
According to her, “Members in Abuja are telling their customers to come and see places like Fifth Chukker Polo Resort in Kaduna and others in Nassarawa and neighbouring states. If people have to travel in the morning and of course will pass the night in Kaduna, it is an opportunity to see some of those tourist attractions and use good hotels. This is an opportunity and we don’t need to shutdown anymore,” Akporaiye said.She said further that AGM would give hope to members to take advantage of the situation on ground to tap into the local tourism industry.

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