Last week, officials of the Nigerian Association of Tour Operators (NATOP), led by its President, Hajia Bilqiz Abdul, paid a courtesy visit to the Director General (DG) of National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism (NIHOTOUR), Alhaji Nura Kangiwa, at the headquarters of the Institute in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja.
Like the previous similar visits made by different groups and associations in the Hospitality, Travel and Tourism industry, NATOP was at NIHOTOUR to identify with the DG who assumed office about five months ago following the announcement of the approval of his appointment by President Muhammadu Buhari.
NATOP, an organization engaged in the promotion of international and domestic tourism for the advancement of the sector, sought to go into a partnership with the Institute for the purpose of training its members.
Bilqiz said as an association of professional tour operators, NATOP needs the full support of the Institute to train its members and incessantly update them with the required skills to function optimally and efficiently. Expressing deep worry about the presence of unqualified practitioners in the sector, the NATOP President noted that not only is it killing the industry but also bringing the good name of the profession into disrepute.
Speaking further, she recounted how the activities of untrained and inexperienced operators in the industry have caused great havoc, losses and problems for tour operations of late. She pleaded with the DG to avail members of her association the chance to obtain the essential skills via the various training programmes offered by NIHOTOUR. Bilqiz was of the conviction that such training from NIHOTOUR under the dynamic leadership of Kangiwa will go a long way to help check poor service delivery, and equally curb the unwholesomely appalling practices of quacks and unprofessional operators who see the tourism industry as an all-comers affair.
In his response, Kangiwa, an accomplished Tourism pundit of high repute, believed to be a round peg in a round hole as NIHOTOUR DG, was in total agreement with the NATOP President on the essence of training to enhance professionalism which is the key to quality and efficiency.
The erstwhile Vice-President, Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN) and one-time Senior Special Assistant on Tourism Matters to Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State, emphasized the significance of training as the basis for professional demeanor in any given trade to achieve adequate, efficient and proper service delivery.
The DG disclosed that in accordance with its mandate, NIHOTOUR has been persistently calling on all operators and practitioners in the Hospitality, Travel and Tourism industry to take advantage of the training services offered by the Institute to develop and upgrade their skills for better, greater and safer service delivery in the sector.
He said the request by NATOP for partnership and collaboration in the training of its members was coming at the right time when the Institute is being repositioned for better quality service delivery through proper and adequate training and re-training for all professionals and operators in the industry.
With the Hospitality, Travel and Tourism Sector Skill Council of Nigeria (HTTSSCN) under the direct coordination of NIHOTOUR, the DG averred that the agency has long desired to have all operators and practitioners in the industry abide by the compulsory provision of knowledge-based skill acquisition through training for better service delivery in conformity with global best practices. He declared that impostors and charlatans might soon no longer have their way as steps would be taken to ensure that only persons with due certification are allowed to practice in the industry.
The thoroughbred quintessential Tourism professional, who had promised to apply his expertise garnered over the years to do things differently to move NIHOTOUR to greater heights, cheerfully without the slightest hesitation, granted NATOP’s plea for a brief training session for members of the Association at their next meeting holding in Abuja. The training session by NIHOTOUR at NATOP’s forthcoming meeting in FCT as endorsed by the DG would mark the beginning of the partnership entered into by the Institute with the tour operators for training services.
Some organizations that have as well embarked on a collaborative drive to NIHOTOUR since Kangiwa came on board as the helmsman include: the Association of Tourism Practitioners of Nigeria (ATPN), National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) and FTAN of which the DG was a top official (Vice President for Northwest Zone 2017 to 2019).
FTAN is the umbrella body of all tourism associations in Nigeria with a membership of 23 bodies and unions operating in the Organized Private Sector of the Nigerian Tourism and Hospitality industry. The Institute of Tourism Professionals of Nigeria (ITPN), Hotel Owners Forum of Abuja (HOFA), and Hospitality and Tourism Management Association of Nigeria, HATMAN were among the groups FTAN National President, Alhaji Rabo Kareem, had led to NIHOTOUR earlier.
The appointment of Kangiwa as NIHOTOUR boss had been widely hailed and described as most deserving for a man who has made enormously impactful contributions to the growth and development of the tourism sector. Stakeholders strongly believe the DG has what it takes to reposition the Institute for better performance and delivery on its core mandate of “Providing professional and technical skills upgrading training programmes to enhance all levels of personnel in all areas of the industry and all disciplines and specialization directly and indirectly connected with the Hospitality and Tourism Industry.”
Michael Jegede, a media professional writes from Abuja