Minister advocates digital capacity training for tourism personnel

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The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has called on National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism (NIHOTOUR) to embark on digital training  for tourism and hospitality personnel in the industry for effective service delivery.
Mohammed, who was represented by Mr Femi Coker, Director General, Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), made the call at the 2021 Annual Masters Lecture Series on Thursday in Abuja.
The 2021 edition with the theme: “Professionalising the Nigeria Hospitality and Tourism Personnel in Pandemic World”, aimed at repositioning the sector in its rightful position.
According to him, the individual has to be trained and retrained, in line with the dynamic nature of the digital ecosystem and movement from one stage to another.
He added that such which would bring constant learning, must be invested in the dynamic environment.
He further said that such dynamic environment would help people more, in going along with the change not only in private sector, but also in public sector.
Mohammed urged the public sector to invest in digital capacity as well as the private sector was doing.
” The world is changing, it is no longer pen and paper, but it is now Hi- phone, Samsung and the rest of it, which is a different ecosystem.
“We must not fold back digital revolution, we must drive into it even when we do not know what is going on there.
” The marketing of tourism is not by palmphlate but social media, so the structure of NIHOTOUR depends on must change.
“Training a man in Bayelsa to a particular standard online is the skill that NIHOTOUR must develop internally, to experience the growth in tourism we are clamouring for.
” NIHOTOUR must also gather data for decision-taking because I feel it is the way it is going.
The minister urged NIHOTOUR to capture and predict the future requirements of the nation in terms of hospitality and tourism.
“Tourism must find it own money, cheap money that understands that tourism has a bit of Agriculture in it.
“You have to grow the business before crossing the line into perfectability, because whatever tourism and hospitality does NIHOTOUR must be sustained,”he added.
Mrs Ifeoma Anyanwutaku, Permanent Secretary in the ministry, in her goodwill message, said the COVID-19 pandemic had greatly affected both hospitality and tourism industry worldwide, presenting negative impact on country’s tourism and hospitality industry.
Represented by Mr Patricia Narai, Director, Domestic Tourism and Ecotourism, she added that the cancellation in various hotels and travel bookings, resulted to massive revenue and job losses in the sector.
“As the theme of this year implies, it is imperative that hoteliers trained their human resources to ensure that guests compile with COVID-19 protocols, before entering and while within the premises to reduce the spread of it.
“Relevant guidelines should be taken when in and out of the hostel, as well as when receiving guests.
” The guidelines should be made available in form of flyers, poster, hand bill, indicating the necessary precautions to be taken by the guests,” she said.
She called on NIHOTOUR to redouble its effort towards sustaining the momentum, as well as improving on it overall impact by building the capacity of professionals in the industry.
Speaking, Alhaji Thomas Adedayo, Executive Director, National Film and Video Censors Board(NFVCB), said that the theme of this year would be a good guide towards improving on hospitality and tourism in the midst of am  pandemic world.
Adedayo added that Nigeria had abundance of National , Significant historic and new tourist attractions, located across the country that could be tapped in  boosting the economy.
” It is an established fact that the hospitality was the worst hit by the pandemic but for the energetic drive of NIHOTOUR Director-General, Alhaji Nura Kangiwa, the story has changed.
” Hopefully with the support of staff and other stakeholders, both in private and public, I am sure more is yet to come, ” he said.
Earlier, Alhaji Kangiwa, in his address of welcome, said that the Annual Masters Lectures Series was a critical component of the institute’s academic activity that started in 2016, marking its fifth edition.
According to him, the lecture series was instituted to attract hospitality and tourism practitioners, professionals and intellectuals, who will provide valuable information.
” Tourism, as we all know, is the fastest growing industry in the world, contributing substantially to the economics of most country.
“It is also the sector that stimulates development in terms of income generation, employment opportunities, foreign exchange earnings, taxation etc, with the attendant multiplier and spillover effects on the rest of economy.
“Unfortunately for humanity, the world is currently going through very traumatising phase, occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“With the Travel- Tourism and Hospitality industry been the hardest hit in all facets of all its operations, this, I may say, informed the choice of the theme of this year,” he said.
Kangiwa added that the quality of receiving, treating guests and visitors in a warm friendly manner , was dependent on the quality of personnel handling the Travel – Tourism and Hospitality business.
He commended the government on its continued role of ameliorating the spread and effect of the pandemic, while at the same time ensuring that economic activities remained unhindered.