Thursday, June 6, 2013

We’ll focus more on transformation of domestic tourism – NTDC DG, Sally Mbanefo

NTDC DG, Mrs. Sally Mbanefo Photo: NTDC
The Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) will focus more on transformation of domestic tourism, according to the body’s recently appointed Director General, Mrs. Sally Mbanefo. This came to light from series of her earlier meetings with NTDC management and staff shortly after her appointment.

The incumbent NTDC DG, who assumed office two weeks ago, reportedly outlined the thrust of her focus as “development of the local content”. An NTDC insider that spoke to Travels on condition of anonymity, quoted Mrs. Mbanefo as saying: “Before we can successfully sell the Nigerian tourism brand to the outside world, we must address the domestic market potentials, secure the buy-in and confidence of Nigerians in the sector and get our compatriots to be proud of their tourism heritage and industry”.

Although the meetings mostly revolved around development of the Tourism Value Chain (TVC) across the country to realise the objectives for which the Corporation was set up as well as meeting the core mandate of the supervising ministry of tourism; the NTDC chief added: “The development of the domestic tourism would also entail other core mandates which includes job creation, poverty alleviation and revenue generation”.

Through reliable sources within NTDC, Travels further gathered that “Programmes of the repositioned NTDC, shall be determined and executed in line with the mission of the Tourism Ministry which is engaging with stakeholders to reinvent and reposition Nigerian Tourism sector for the emergence of an integrated, vibrant, globally competitive, skilled, professional and private sector-driven industry”.

The Corporation hopes to achieve these “through strategic international corporation, investment-promotion and a strong regulatory and corporative inter-governmental environment that generates employment and alleviates poverty for sustainable national economic advantage”.

In a brief telephone conversation with Travels, Mrs. Mbanefo actually confirmed the results of our findings; subsequently hinting that NTDC, “working in close partnership with other parastatals shall be implementing the Tourism Master Plan (TMP) geared towards the promotion of Nigeria’s rich tourism potentials through identification, development and marketing of the diverse tourism opportunities”.

Additionally, we were told that “in line with the core-mandate of the supervising ministry, the NTDC shall be active in promoting tourism as a foreign exchange earner, income re-distributor, major revenue earner to the federal government, major employer of labour as well as a catalyst for rural development and poverty reduction”.

Mrs. Mbanefo boasts some 26 years’ private-sector experience acquired in key positions at Keystone Bank Ltd, where she was an Executive Director; Allied Energy Plc (as Group Executive Director); Director, Public Affairs and Communications at Coca-Cola (Nigeria & Equatorial Africa); and, as General Manager of Lafarge Cement Wapco Nigeria Plc.

Given her wide-ranging experience at top executive positions in both national and multinational corporations spanning banking and finance, oil and gas, manufacturing as well as not-for-profit organisations; tourism indistry watchers are hoping Mrs. Mbanefo would tap her decades’-long experience to deliver excellent results in NTDC’s various functional areas.

The NTDC new helmsman hopes to enhance Public Private Partnerships (PPP) as well as collaboration with other parastatals and agencies of the ministry in the development of the country’s tourism potentials. She also expressed interest in poverty alleviation and job creation through the activities of the new NTDC by encouraging the establishment and running of tourism enterprises by the poor and ensuring that profits from tourism benefits the poor.

Her pro-poor programmes, according to NTDC sources, would also ensure that investments in tourism infrastructure benefit the poor in the locality, where such sites are located. Mbanefo will also give high priority to women and youth empowerment as well as support for the underprivileged through tourism entrepreneurship.

While assuring the workers and management that she operates an open-door leadership style that ensures free-flow of communication, fosters team spirit and collective cooperation; the new NTDC chief charged them to prepare to show more accountability, discipline and integrity.

With her promises of staff training, better remuneration and career upliftment across board, Mbanefo hopes to boost staff morale and productivity. She reportedly noted that “a boost in staff morale would go a long way in getting them meet the expectations of the Honorable Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Mr. Edem Duke”.

Having earlier expressed utmost confidence in the programmes and plans of the minister for Nigeria’s tourism sector, thus; “the minister has properly interpreted and adapted the overall transformation agenda of the government of President Goodluck Jonathan as it relates to tourism sector of the economy; Mbanefo went on to emphasise: “NTDC would be committed to achieving the set goals”.

Concluding, Mrs. Mbanefo remarked: “The vision of the NTDC shall be interpreted in line with that of the Ministry, which is to reposition Nigeria as the preferred tourism destination in sub-Saharan Africa, offering diverse world-class tourism products geared towards contributing 10% to the GDP through a transformation-driven policy”.

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