President, Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN), Mr Nkereuwem Onung, has identified tourism as having the potential of boosting Nigeria’s growth, as well as contributing to the development of communities around the globe.
Onung stated this at the 2020/2021 matriculation of students of the National Institute of Hospitality and Tourism (NIHOTOUR), at the weekend, in Abuja.
He added that the industry was particularly dependent on its ability to hire young men and women aged 17-25, who would make up the largest segment of its employees.
The FTAN president, who was a guest speaker at the event, spoke on the topic:”Building capacity to meet the Travel, Hospitality and Tourism industry skills gap for quality service delivery in Nigeria.”
Onung applauded the students for pursuing a career in tourism, noting, “In the past few years, students of hospitality and tourism were laughed at, for not choosing a more serious career path.
” We are now, however, celebrating the new students, who have shown interest in travel, hospitality and tourism as a career.
“I am deliberate in using the words travel, hospitality and tourism here, because it is time we draft the contributions of aviation and the transport sector into the calculation of tourism’s contributions to Nigeria’s GDP.
“The world has entered a phase that is popularly referred to as the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’, a period characterised by technological revolution that is massively reshaping and transforming the way industries, communities and societies operate and engage or relate with each other.
“The travel, hospitality and tourism industry is right in the middle of this as it is largely labour intensive.”
He further said that attracting young people, who possessed the technical and life skills, as well as the passion to provide quality service would prove more important than ever.
Onung, however, noted that the industry had witnessed a downturn in job opportunities, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in recent times.
” The coronavirus pandemic has enormous impact on the entire socio-economic structures of countries worldwide and it accounts for the epileptic service delivery of many enterprises globally.
” The pandemic has massive consequences that have reshaped the present and future landscapes of the tourism industry, affecting jobs, man-hours, revenue, income and livelihood of workers, as well as owners of tourism related businesses.
“The World Travel Tourism Council has recently warned that COVID-19 pandemic can lead to a cut of 50 million jobs worldwide in the travel and tourism industry,” he added.
He commended the NIHOTOUR Director-General for his passionate leadership and unwavering quest to sustain the position of the institute, as a leading global brand to be reckoned with.
According to him, the matriculants critically needed life and employability skills, as well as a way to prepare them to be motivated and confident decision makers, who can overcome adversity and realise their potentials.
” We encourage you all to develop a career vision to chart a path in this sector, which entails accepting responsibility on how far you want to go.
” The vision must be clear, you must acquire the competence required, while expecting definite constraints, which creativity and concentration will deliver.
” You will need courage and continuous action to arrive at your destination, ” he stated.
He called on all practitioners in the industry to join hands with NIHOTOUR,” as a matter of urgency and necessity in encouraging skilling and re-skilling through continuous education.”
Onung added that skilling and re- skilling through continuous education was a means of building capacity that would meet travel, hospitality and tourism industry skills gap, for quality service delivery in Nigeria.