Saturday, August 6, 2011

NIHOTOUR, NEPC encourage Nigerians to popularise indigenous cuisines

Tourism yields over $100B yearly

NIHOTOUR, NEPC kickstart plans for Nigerians’ share of yummy cake


The National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism (NIHOTOUR) in collaboration with the Nigerian Export Promotions Council (NEPC) held a very important one-day sensitization seminar in Abuja and Lagos recently.

R-L: Tourism Minister, High Chief Edem Duke; NIHOTOUR DG, Alhaji Munzali Dantata; Ladi Dakwo (JP) and NEPC Executive Director, David Adelugba during the Abuja seminar. PHOTO: NIHOTOUR

Dubbed, National Sensitization Seminar on Popularizing Nigerian Cuisine Globally, the theme of each seminar revolved around Promoting Nigerian Cuisine Beyond Borders.

The events took place at Ladi Kwali Conference Centre, Sheraton Hotel in Abuja on Tuesday, July 26; while the Lagos leg ran on Thursday, July 28; at NEPC Zonal Office on Oladipo Oluwole Street in Apapa.

Given the plenitude and ever-increasing population of Nigerians in the Diaspora, there is no doubt that running a Nigerian restaurant in a foreign country would be a profitable venture. However, not many people have the slightest inkling as to how to go about investing in this line of business.

The seminars therefore provided an excellent and auspicious platform for the NEPC and NIHOTOUR to shed light on their roles toward facilitating the promotion of Nigerian cuisine abroad.

In Abuja, aside the Tourism, Culture and National Orientation Minister, Chief Edem Duke; and, NIHOTOUR DG, Alhaji Munzali Dantata; other addresses were also delivered by the Minister of State, Ministry of Trade and Investment; Dr. Samuel Ortom and NEPC Executive Director, David I Adelugba, who gave the welcome address.

Papers presented at the Abuja seminar included Nutrition Value of Nigerian Foods by Mrs Dinatu Selleng, a Dietrician at Specialist Hospital, Jos; Hygiene Practices Food Handling by Mr Ernest C. Obia, Director Hospitality, NIHOTOUR, Abuja; Packaging and Challenges of Nigerian Cuisine for Experts by Mrs Kofo Ajelabi, Consultant; and, Market Penetration Strategies and Potentials of Nigerian Cuisine beyond borders by Mr Sabo Bello, Director Marketing at NEPC, Abuja.

In Lagos, where Ladi T Dakwo (JP), Director Planning, Consultancy and Information Services, represented DG NIHOTOUR; while the Executive Director of NEPC was represented by Mr L. Ako, Director Bilateral & Multilateral Trade NEPC; the same papers were presented, except that Nutritional value of Nigerian foods was this time presented by Dr (Mrs.) Patricia Mbah, a lecturer at Federal College of Education (Technical), Akoka, Lagos.

Prior to the seminars, NIHOTOUR’s director of planning, consultancy and information had told mauricearchibongtravels that the exercise promised much delectation; and, she would be vindicated by the impression of those that witnessed the events.

Speaking with mauricearchibongtravels two weeks to the seminars, this director had remarked: “We’ve seen that Chinese, Italian, Indian foods have been accepted world-wide. To my mind, Nigerian cuisine also ought to be promoted. Nigeria is the largest black nation on earth and its cuisine needs to be showcased; so, the seminar we are organizing will create awareness to galvanize action”.

In his keynote address, Chief Duke, who graced the Abuja seminar with his presence; lauded the synergy between NIHOTOUR and NEPC in promoting Nigerian culture through indigenous cuisine.

Coming literally on the heels of his appointment as Tourism, Culture and National Orientation Minister, Chief Duke; who observed that the forum provided him the opportunity of meeting hospitality stakeholders officially, as a minister; added: “I wish it serves as wake-up call for quality service delivery in the industry”.

The minister, who went on to declare that “The Federal Government’s commitment to reposition tourism as one of the levers of economic growth and development in the country is not in doubt”; subsequently urged: “We, the stakeholders, are duty-bound to ensure that the industry moves forward, so that Nigerians can also benefit from it. It is against this background that I invite all stakeholders to join me to put all hands on deck to transform the industry and move it to the next level”.

He reminded that restructuring and professionalization of the ministry: such as the production of a functional National Tourism Policy, putting in place the Tourism Satellite Account, evolving an implementable Tourism Development Master Plan and the Heritage Master plan, the siting of an Abuja Cultural Centre and Millennium Tower, among others; were efforts aimed at achieving this objective.

“Tourism”, Chief Duke continued, “is recognised today as the world’s greatest employer of labour and a good generator of wealth. At present, we are grappling with the problem of youth unemployment, which in some cases have resulted in youth restiveness. We cannot, therefore, fold our hands and watch a dreaded monster (unemployment) push us onto the precipice.

“I am made to understand that the seminar is aimed at showcasing Nigeria’s rich cuisines with the objective of packaging and exporting same to the outside world. Countries like China, France, Italy and India have used their kitchen as a source of generating foreign earnings and means of promoting their cultural heritage. Secondly, it is intended to sensitize stakeholders with the available opportunities within the industry and finally promote intellectual discourse on ethnic foods in the country”.

Concluding, the minister; while commendeding NIHOTOUR and NEPC, organizers of the seminar, for their initiative; and, expressing hope “they will sustain it; added: “We all owe it as a duty to make Nigeria the ultimate tourist destination in Africa. It is a task we have set for ourselves, and I have no doubt that with all these efforts; Nigeria, very soon, will be among the top twenty economies in the world”.

In his address at the Lagos seminar, NIHOTOUR DG, Alhaji Dantata, who also commended the organizers; remarked: “Tourism industry is a specialized, people-oriented, service endeavour; and, therefore calls for specialized training for its full potentials to be realised”.

Dantata, who observed that the seminars’ timing could not have been more auspicious, “especially now that Mr. President is asking all of us to be agents of transformation”; added that “Seminars like this, offer a unique opportunity for Nigerians to appreciate their nation’s various cuisines and strive to promote them and make them acceptable, thereby bringing in the much-needed foreign earnings”.

He, however, drew attention to the importance of finishing thus: “One thing I must harp on here is packaging of the products. Report on The estimates that the global food packaging industry is worth a whopping $100billion, and growing by 10 to 15 percent each year; and, Nigeria needs to tap into this”.

The Nihotour boss went on to declare: “I have no doubt that my counterpart in the Nigerian Export Promotion Council will help in the packaging and presentation of the food for international market”, said the Nihotour helmsman; who went on to express joy that NIHOTOUR was now better poised to make it more responsive to the training needs of the industry as well as meet the challenges of its mandate.
“To this end”, Dantata continued; “NIHOTOUR’s presence is now felt in virtually all the six geopolitical zones of the country. This was done with a view to cover effectively all sectors of the industry as well as promote professionalism in the sector”.

To conclude, Dantata, “strongly” advised “both the public and private sectors to avail themselves of the training programmes available in NIHOTOUR from the craft to the managerial levels”.

Participants at the seminars included restaurateurs, caterers, connoiseurs, hospitality sector stakeholders as well as CEOs of departments and agencies under the Tourism Ministry and a host of others, including top brasses of Grand Cereal Ltd, makers of Soya Oil as well as West African Seasoning.

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