In recent times, the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) proposed plans to register, license, and grade hotels and other tourism establishments in Abuja; this has prompted the Institute of Hospitality, UK – Nigeria Region to have concerns. According to a statement released by the Institute, there are inconsistencies between the FCTA decision to conduct the exercise and the provisions of the recently signed Nigerian Tourism Development Authority (NTDA) Act and Related Matters, 2022, which repealed the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation Act, cap. N.137, laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.
The institute’s chairman, Professor Wasiu Babalola, has requested clarifications on the provisions of the new NTDA Act and the ‘Tourism Act’ of the FCTA, upon which the FCTA claims to be relying in order to carry out the exercise, in order to prevent a conflict that might adversely affect the FCT hospitality and tourism industry. You may remember that after a stakeholder sensitization conference in Abuja, Hadiza Kabir, mandate secretary of the FCTA Social Development Secretariat, and other tourism department officers spoke about the matter to the media.
NTDA mission is fostering development of the tourist industry.
It was made apparent that Alhaji Mohammed Musa Bello, Minister of the FCT, had authorized the department to begin the registration, licensing, and grading of hotels and other tourism services. Prof. Babalola stressed that the new act clearly specified the Nigerian Tourism Development Authority’s major mission as fostering the expansion and improvement of the tourist industry in Nigeria, and he urged the government to give this field a higher priority. With the new bill, he added that the Nigerian Tourism Development Authority is expected to develop and enhance Nigeria as a travel and tourism destination.
For this purpose, the new Act seeks to prevent the practice of Nigerians spending large sums of foreign currencies on tourism overseas by encouraging residents and nonresidents alike to spend their vacations within the country. The new Act, according to the chairman, merely provided for the accreditation of hotels and tourism-related outfits by NTDA, and it was reserved on the aspect of registration, licensing, and grading, which was supposed to be the topmost priority before such accreditation.
FCT Administration retains sole authority of the industry in the state.
He went on to say that, despite the fact that Section.32 of the NTDA Act mandates that the authority accredit all hospitality and tourism establishments across the federation, a reading of Sections .32 and .38 combined indicates that commission accreditation is optional so long as states work with the NTDA on the matter. However, the offence and penalty provisions of S.39 of the NTDA Act indicate an import that makes the accreditation by the commission mandatory for all.
Due to the likelihood for confusion, Prof. Babalola has asked the FCT minister and the Information and Culture minister to address the stakeholders on the matter forthwith. He suggested that the Honourable Minister of the FCT, Mohammed Musa Bello, and the Honourable Minister of Information, Culture, and Tourism, Alhaji Lai Muhammed, jointly reassure stakeholders that the FCT Administration retains sole authority over the registration, classification, and grading of the hospitality and tourism enterprises within the FCT.
Current administration can still accomplish these and lay groundwork.
While Prof. Babalola acknowledged that the Act itself may not be the end goal, he did say that it served as a tool to achieve certain objectives, including the necessity for the commission Act to be refined so as to make it suitable to the Nigerian environment and meeting the expectations of the operators. Thus, he agrees with the industry’s call for a dedicated Ministry of Tourism or Culture and Tourism. He further perceived that the incumbent administration can still accomplish these and lay the groundwork for the incoming administration to revamp the tourist and hospitality sector.