By Babajide Okeowo
The President Muhammadu Buhari led Federal Government has reiterated its resolve to ensure that tourism is given a prime place in the economic plans of the administration to revitalize the economy in the post-covid-19 economic plan agenda for sustainable growth.
This was the submission made by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha in an address to declare the 2020 and third edition of the Annual Tourism Transportation Summit and Expo opened at the Abuja International Conference Centre.
Mr. Boss Mustapha who was represented at the occasion by Mr. Olakunle Fasina- Director Public Affairs-Bilateral Relations of the Secretary to Federal Government stated that the annual summit and expo with the theme Repositioning Tourism and Transportation Connectivity and Mobility to Revitalize the Economy couldn’t have come at a better time than now when the world economy has come under the greatest threat of our time occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic that has dealt a deadly blow on all sectors of the global economy with transportation, hospitality, and tourism sub-sectors been the hardest hit.
He expressed the happiness of the federal government for the positive spirit the annual summit and expo has breathed and injected into the tourism transportation sector in particular and the national economy as a whole, noting that the synergy created by the event has continuously forged between government and the private sector a healthy development in the efforts by the present administration to support and carry the private sector along in repositioning the national economy through a robust Public-Private Partnership (PPP) initiative.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation further observed that the connectivity brought by road transport which is at the heart of tourism development provides substantial economic benefits for all involved in the tourism value chain saying that it is against this backdrop that the Tourism Transport Summit and Expo will further strengthen the links between both sectors and maximize their impacts on employment, inclusive growth and sustainable development as a way of overcoming the negative impacts and effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the economy.
Earlier in his welcome address, National President of the Institute for Tourism Professionals of Nigeria (ITPN), and Chairman, Inter-ministerial Organizing Committee (IOC) of the event, Chief Abiodun Odusanwo stated that the objective of the annual summit and expo is to deepen the connectivity and interplay between Tourism and Transportation as well as provide a platform to explore the interdependency among MDAs and private corporate organizations whose functions and activities have either direct or indirect correlation to operations in the travel tourism and transportations industries for maximum inclusive growth and sustainable development of the Nigerian economy.
Chief Odusanwo further emphasized his appeal for Nigeria to explore all available avenues for the country to benefit from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) initiative to boost the tourism industry through enhanced cooperation between the sector and air transport, saying that ICAO is a specialized agency of the UN that codifies the principles and techniques of international air navigation and fosters the planning and development of international air transport which sees to the safe and orderly growth of global air transport.
He stated that the symbiotic relationship between aviation and tourism is reflected at the global level in the respective mandates of ICAO and UNWTO, explaining that while ICAO sets standards and policies for aviation safety, security, efficiency, environmental protection and economic development of air transport the UNWTO promotes responsible sustainable and universally accessible tourism as a driver of economic growth and sustainable development.
Goodwill messages were received from several MDAs and the operators of the organized private sector who identified the annual event as a formidable platform to explore and deepen the synergy between tourism and transportation and their resolve to support and collaborate with the organizers for the successful hosting of the event annually.
Dignitaries at the event were conducted round exhibitors’ stands and pavilions who brought on display and showcasing several innovative products and improved marketing strategies in both the tourism and transportation sectors.
At the technical and plenary sessions, a total of fourteen (14) papers were delivered by experts and professionals both from the operational and academic sides which centered on the main theme of the Summit and Expo which is Repositioning Tourism and Transportation Connectivity and Mobility to Revitalize the Economy divided into the following sub-themes: *Repositioning the Nation’s Maritime Industry for Sustainable Growth and Improved Contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP); *Enhancing Traveler’s Safety and Security in a Globalized Economy; *Tourism and Transportation Interdependency: Best Practices and Impact; and *Maintaining Resilient Infrastructure and Institution for Sustainable Transportation and Tourism Development
Others are; *Capacity Building and the Professionalism of the Tourism and Transportation Industry; *Transportation Intermodal Connectivity in Africa- Dealing with the Barrier; *Blue Economy: Panacea to Sustainable Development of the Transportation and Tourism Industry in Nigeria and *Virtual Business Imperative: Values, Infrastructural Challenges and Threat Post Covid-19.
The event was rounded up with Membership induction and a Gala Night that saw in attendance de crème de la crème of the tourism and transportation sectors of the country in both public and private sectors.
The fourth edition of the Annual National Tourism Transportation Summit and Expo is slated to hold from Monday 26th to Tuesday 27th April 2021.