The Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) and other stakeholders in the tourism sector on Wednesday rejected the proposed `Tourism Bill` currently before the National Assembly (NASS).
They told the News Agency of Nigeria in separate interviews in Lagos that the proposed bill would render useless the various agencies saddled with the responsibility of contributing to tourism development.
The bill titled, â€œThe NIHOTOUR Billâ€™â€™ sent to NASS by the National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism (NIHOTOUR) would hold on June 15.
The NTDC Director-General, Mr Folorunsho Folarin-Coker, told NAN that NIHOTOUR would be going beyond the mandate for which it was established if the bill is passed into law by NASS.
He said that NIHOTOUR was established, principally, as a training institute for personnel and stakeholders in the tourism and hospitality industry.
â€œThe bill will be giving NIHOTOUR the position of both a trainer and a regulator of everything relating to tourism; thereby disregarding the legality of other parastatal agencies.â€™â€™
Folarin-Coker said that the countryâ€™s tertiary institutions should be allowed to establish departments that would be training personnel in tourism.
He said that encouraging several tertiary institutions to be part of it would enhance the ease of doing business as enunciated by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo recently.
â€œItâ€™s time for change and we all must embrace change,â€™â€™ Folarin-Coker said.
Also, Mr Bankole Bernard, the National President, National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA), said that NIHOTOUR had no statutory power to regulate tourism affairs in Nigeria.
Bernard said that NIHOTOUR would do well as a directorate under NTDC.
â€œThis is a bill that cannot see the light of the day because NIHOTOUR has no capacity to regulate the huge tourism industry.
â€œWe should have NIHOTOUR as a directorate under NTDC,â€™â€™â€™ he said.
Mr Ikechi Uko, the organiser of the yearly African Travel Market exhibitions, â€œAkwaabaâ€™â€™ said that NIHOTOUR was only an institute meant to be training personnel in the tourism and hospitality industry.
Uko said that the institute was not capable of regulating the tourism industry.
He said that the institute should concentrate on its statutory responsibility of training people.
â€œ I think NIHOTOUR has to be restricted to training of personnel in tourism and hospitality and the government should fund it adequately.
â€œWe have the NTDC which has been saddled with the responsibility of regulating the tourism industry.
â€œI am therefore calling on government to fund these bodies to be able to perform their duties,â€™â€™ Uko said.
Also, Mr Olubunmi Oshindero, the Chief Executive Officer of Boomtrust Travels and Tours told NAN that NIHOTOUR could not be the sole regulator of the sector and also be involved in the training of tourism personnel.
Oshindero said that these responsibilities would be too much for the institute.
He, however, advised that the institute should be left with the responsibility of training and not a regulator.
â€œI feel the responsibility to regulate tourism industry and train tourism personnel will be too much for NIHOTOUR, â€™â€™Oshindero said.
Mrs Omolola Itayemi, President, National Association of Travel and Tourism Writers of Nigeria (ATTWON), told NAN that NIHOTOUR was established as a training institute.
Itayemi said that it was not established as a regulator of hospitality outlets in the industry.
She said that it should focus its attention on achieving its set objectives and as such would be adding value to the sector and the country.
The NIHOTOUR was established in 1987 following an agreement signed by the Federal Government, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
The Federal Government had to ensure that NIHOTOUR started its training activities in 1988.
The institute was a department and the training wing of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation before it gained autonomy in 1998.
Thereafter, the mandate of the institute was widened to provide technical skills and vocational manpower need for hotel, catering, and tourism workforce in Nigeria.
The institute has over the years trained and served as one of few centres for International Air Transport Associations (IATA) examination in Nigeria.
It had trained thousands of Nigerians that now work mostly with travel agencies, tour companies and airlines