The proprietor of Brooklyn Hotel Group and former president of Association of Tourism Practitioners of Nigeria (ATPN), Chief Mike Amachree, has called on different tiers of government in the country to use tourism to fight unemployment in the country.
He said tourism is the highest employer of labour, globally and by investing and paying greater attention to tourism, the industry can generate jobs and reduce unemployment. Amachree, was speaking during the Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN) AGM in Abuja, recently where he was conferred with the honour of Nigeria’s Father of Tourism.
Speaking on why FTAN decided to confer the honour of Nigeria’s Father of Tourism on Amachree, FTAN President, Alhaji Saleh Rabo, said Amachree has been in the tourism industry for more than 55 years and has contributed immensely to the development of tourism in the country. He said Amachree was among the founders of FTAN and has traversed in and out of the country while promoting and advocating for the development of the industry.
Among some of the achievements of Amachree include: first national president of Association of Tourism Practitioners of Nigeria (ATPN) in 1990; a director of the Nigeria Tourist Board (now NTDC) in 1991; represented Nigeria at the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Commission for Africa conference in 1992 in Ghana; organised the first Abuja Carnival in 1990 when General Ibrahim Babangida (rtd) was the head of state.
During the FTAN AGM, Alhaji Saleh Rabo, called for the injection of funds into the tourism industry. He said, “Essentially, we want to engage some national and international funding organisations to secure grants or investment funds, something akin to what the Agriculture sector in Nigeria benefits”.
“Accordingly, we plan to engage relevant organisations including the Bank of Industry (BOI) and Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC) to support FTAN members”, he added.
Speaking on the activities of FTAN in the last one year, Rabo said: “So far, we have attained some of the milestones we espoused in our campaigns, and we are still making considerable efforts to consummate even more of our strategic plans. We have secured a befitting national secretariat for FTAN and have since improved the structures and processes of the secretariat functions and administration.
“We have recently setup a department of Tourism Research and Advocacy, as well as, trained some FTAN staff on diverse professional subjects.
“More so, FTAN is on the verge of signing a Memorandum of Understanding with Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS). The MoU will cover both capacity development of the new FTAN Research Department, as well as, partnership on tourism industry research, including the Nigeria Tourism Satellite Account (TSA); promoted by the Ministry of Information and Culture.
“Talking about Nigeria tourism development, and in line with our promise of opening up new destinations, we have started moving the quarterly FTAN Governing Council meeting across Nigeria’s geo-political zones. So far, we have had two council meetings in Lagos and one in Port Harcourt. In fact, the next council meeting in October this year would be hosted by FTAN South-East Zone, precisely in Owerri.”
He stressed that, FTAN goals are to facilitate tourism investments for operators in the industry. Reiterating the federation’s plans to designate members as ‘recognisable tourism operators’ clusters for harmonisation of standards and work with investment funds to benchmark financial service needs, such as designing transparent framework for qualification and access to investment funds/grant, and bankable conditions for collaterals or group guarantees.’
The high point of the FTAN AGM was the adoption of a new constitution for the association, which was adopted by the house and came into effect.