Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN) has explained the rationale behind its awards to selected individuals in the society, saying it is guided by the need to recognise the body of commitment and efforts put in over the years by the recipients.
Speaking, on the occasion of the presentation of the prestigious Tourism Icon Brand Award to three personalities at World Tourism Day celebration which was held in Akwa Ibom State, President of FTAN, Mr Nkereuwen Onung, explained that the recipients of the honour have lifted the sector through personal efforts committed to the growth and development of the industry.
The Tourism Icon Brand Award recipients include; the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Pastor Umo Eno, Dr. Ganiyu Balogun Tarzan, and Eze (Dr.) Igwe Patrick Anyanwu.
In a welcome address Mr. Onung explained that the association ‘does not just give awards for the sake of giving awards,’ but recognises private sector operators or other individuals ‘who have committed their time, efforts and personal financial resources to lifting the industry.’
“We do so to people for their steadfastness and commitment to the task or occupation they have endeared themselves to towards establishing the industry as we all know today. Without their commitment, most of us would not be here benefiting from the industry as a whole.
“That is what we do. You may not know them but the people who knew them from whence they started working and struggling for the industry will attest to the fact they indeed laboued to grow and develop this industry as we see it today.
“You may not know the story behind their rise to stardom but every time we honour these people, it is for daring to succeed; every time we honour them, we tap into their success, because every time you honour a man, you also tap into his success story.
“We also ensure that when that honour comes, it is based on their efforts, commitment and struggle towards growing the industry,” Onung said.
The FTAN president further explained that his association honours recipients based on the body of work deployed by the persons receiving the awards, and not for one achievement recorded by them.
“We honour people who have committed their time, money, and efforts to the industry over the many years of service put in. It is for the body of work put in to grow their businesses, in particular, and the industry as a whole.
“That is the reason we honour people. We give awards not just for giving sake. The recipients may look ordinary to an average person watching, but for those in the industry, we know how much of their personal resources, efforts ad time have been spent struggling to firmly establish their personal businesses or the tourism industry. And what we see today is only a testament of the body of work these recipients have committed into the sector,” Onung said.
Tourism Icon, Igwe Patrick Anyanwu, who also doubles as the President of the Nigeria Hotels Association (NHA), thanked FTAN for the recognition accorded him, and also the Akwa Ibom Government for honouring the FTAN President ‘their son’ with a position in the State Executive Council (SEC), just as he recounted his years of working to grow the hospitality sector of the country’s economy.
On his part, Dr Balogun Tarzan, fondly called ‘The Boatman,’ who also doubles as the President of the Association of Tourist Boat Operators and water Transporters Association (ATBOWATON) while thanking FTAN for the honour bestowed him, urged the Akwa Ibom Governor, Umo Eno to work towards empowering boat operators in the state to enable them expand their operations.
“The Akwa Ibom State Government has created the Ibom Air for the air travellers, we want you to also create Ibom Waters so that boat operators can spread their operations to utilise the expansive waterways in the state.
“You can facilitate boats for the operators and collect your money back from them later. A journey from Uyo to Calabar shouldn’t be more than two hours by water, if at all it is more than one hour. This can be achieved by empowering these boat or ferry operators with the necessary tools like boats and outboard engines, so the masses can have access to their own improved means of transportation,” Dr Balogun said.
Responding, the Akwa Ibom state’s commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Sir Charles Udoh, said the government is putting necessary infrastructure in place to enable water transportation within the state’s territory, just as he explained that inter-state water transportation is not ‘in the hands of the Akwa Ibom State to determine.’
According to the commissioner, issues like security and safety are some of the infrastructure that need to be put in place before the investment into waterways transportation.
“I can assure you that the state government has this on its agenda. We are also working on the internal waterways system, by way of putting in place some infrastructure like security. However, we also know that when it involves operations into another state, it’s totally out of our control, as it becomes a federal government matter,” the commissioner explained.
Receiving the award on behalf of the State Governor, Umo Eno, the commissioner for Arts, Culture and Tourism, Udoh while appreciating FTAN’s gesture, said the government remains committed to establishing Akwa Ibom as a destination of choice in the country, and the world, as the aim is to create a globally recognised tourist destination for it.
Earlier,, the FTAN president in his welcome address at the opening of activities lined up by his association in commemoratuin the WTD in Akwa Ibom State, noted that the theme of this year’s celebration ‘underscores the pivotal role that tourism plays in driving sustainable development and fostering responsible investments in our industry.’
According to Onung, who also commended the Federal Government for carving out the Tourism Ministry from the old Culture, Information and National Orientation setup, the theme further highlights the urgent need for the tourism sector to embrace green investments that promote environmental sustainability and economic growth simultaneously.
“Let me begin by appreciating the President of Nigeria, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu for creating two separate ministries; Tourism and that of Culture and entertainment economy. This makes the theme of this year’s WTD apt because these two ministries will separate budgetary allocation which we believe will enhance investment and create jobs.
“Tourism can bring in the much-needed revenue to local economies, support job creation, and preserve cultural heritage. It can also help to promote cross-cultural understanding and foster positive relationships between people from different backgrounds,” Onung said.
The FTAN president advocated the prioritisation of green investment against the backdrop of the potential of tourism on the economy.
“Tourism, as we all know, has the potential to be a powerful engine for economic growth, job creation, and cultural preservation. However, the impact of tourism extends beyond our hotels and attractions; it influences our environment and communities profoundly. Therefore, it is our collective responsibility to ensure that this impact is positive and sustainable.
“To achieve this, we must prioritize green investments that are not only financially lucrative but also environmentally and socially responsible. These investments encompass a wide range of practices, including: Sustainable Infrastructure; Biodiversity Conservation; Community Engagement; and Renewable Energy,” he said.
Onung, therefore, urged members s well as governments on the need to ‘recognize the vital need for green investments to build a tourism sector that delivers for people and planet.;