F-TAN urges Udom to sign tourism bill into law

By Isaac Job, Uyo

Akwa Ibom state chapter of Federation of Tourism Association of Nigeria (FTAN) has appealed to Governor Udom Emmanuel to give assent to two tourism bills passed by the state House of Assembly on tourism development before his exit on May 29.

Akwa Ibom state House of Assembly had passed two Bills bothering on the development of tourism heritage sites and another Bill to give legal backing to Akwa Ibom State Hotels Management And Tourism Board to generate revenue within the sector in the state.

But two years after it was passed by the state Assembly, the Bills still remain pending before Udom for assent.

Speaking to newsmen in Uyo on Sunday, the State Coordinator of FTAN, Mr Joseph Umoh said the two Bills if signed into law will empower the Association and the State Hotels Management and Tourism Board to implement the tripartite MoU signed by the FTAN, the Board and Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) on how to regulate tourism sector in line with International best practices.

“Though I have not seen the final copy of the Bill sent to the governor for assent, I want to believe that our points as were articulated during the memorandum session in the House of Assembly have been incorporated into the bill.

“We looked at the bill holistically and agreed on those elements that will work favourably for the tourism sector. And we agreed that there is no way you can develop tourism independently without taking the Travel and Tour sector along.

Umoh who is the chairman/Chief Entrepreneur, Jous Ventures Leisure Group appealed to the state government to develop tourism sites and give legal backing to them.

“The need to develop tourism sites in the state started in 2020. We sat down with the state Tourism Board and examined the professional sector and analyse how the bill would work.

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“We made our opinion known as we appeared before the state House of Assembly and presented our Memorandum before the bill was sent to Governor Udom Emmanuel.”

Umoh who was invited to Germany after the covid 19 pandemic for tourism-related matters said the state government has a duty to empower the state Tourism Board to generate revenue adding that such leverage will reduce the financial burden of the state government.

“Every government has a duty to empower its tourism board to generate funds. This would reduce the state’s financial commitment. It will also provide employment while the tourism sector will develop rapidly.

“Don’t forget that in no distant future, we are going to have an International Airport in Akwa Ibom and the state will become a tourist hub. We won’t take care of only Nigerian travellers but other tourists from outside Nigeria who will consume our tourism products and such products must comply with International standards. ”

He said if the tourism sector in the state must prepare for the future, it must be empowered through the law to generate funds, train practitioners and its institutions as well as facilities under it to enhance standards.

He, therefore, urged Udom to sign the bill into law to provide legal backing for the implementation of the MoU engaged by the state government for improved services in the tourism sector.

“This would provide basic foundation for the governor-elect pastor Umo Eno to consolidate on the development of tourism in the state,” he concluded.

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