Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Abuja Bantaba participants declare Nigeria safe

Abuja Bantaba 2012
Visitors declare Nigeria safe, Runsewe lauds participants

A unanimous vote of confidence was passed on Nigeria by participants at this year’s edition of Abuja Bantaba Travel Fair, which took place at the Sheraton Hotels and Suites in Abuja on Wednesday April 25.

Practically every guest declared that Nigeria is safe, even as the Director-General of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Otunba Olusegun Runsewe, lauded participants at this year’s event for defying the odds to attend the travel exhibition.

In his address, Otunba Runsewe noted that the NTDC has been revolutionary and practical in its approach to tourism development in Nigeria. The NTDC helmsman went on to eulogise participants for taking part, while promising a plaque and certificate for all exhibitors along with a StarTimes digital decoder with six months’ free subscription.

Several notable individuals, including Abuja Bantaba organiser and travel industry veteran, Mr. Ikechi Uko, a were unequivocal in their claim that despite the challenges of national security, Nigeria remains safe with a thriving tourism industry.

Mr. Uko maintained that the challenges faced by Nigeria were by no means peculiar to the country asserting that the tourism community is strong, resilient and that despite major security concerns, the successful hosting of this year’s Bantaba has proven that tourism always recovers from momentary setbacks.

To buttress his point, Uko cited countries like Kenya and Egypt that have staged phenomenal comebacks in tourism development and promotion irrespective of major crises at one point or another in their history.

Complementing Mr. Uko’s assertion, Chairman of Hotel Owners Forum, Abuja (HOFA), Engineer Onofiok Ekong, called for unity among all practitioners in the industry, while saying that HOFA was poised to synergize with other stakeholders in moving the hospitality industry forward, the challenges besetting it, notwithstanding.

Re-echoing the position of other speakers at the event, former member, House of Representatives and Chairman, House Committee on Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Hon. KGB Oguakwa commended all attendees, who insisted in participating, despite the alarm raised by a section of the international media that Nigeria is unsafe.

In his remarks, former Minister of State, Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Dr. Aliyu Idi Hong, also agreed that crises do not necessarily impede the advancement of tourism, rather; provision must be made to operate with a view to accommodating the setback.

This year’s edition of Abuja Bantaba was attended by numerous hospitality practitioners, travel agencies, tour operators,  members of the diplomatic corps and representatives from the Gambia and Sierra Leone, among others.

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