FTAN President Saves The Day, At Tourism Standardisation Conference

Who really is in charge of Standardisation in the tourism sector of the economy? And why has there been a delay all these while, in putting ahead, global best practices in the area of hospitality and tourism in the country? And what are the best options for experts and practitioners in the industry, at this particular time, in order to forge ahead?

* Nkereuwem Onung

These were the major issues/questions begging for answers at the Standardisation conference held on Friday at Eko Hotel, in Lagos.

At the event were notable personalities and corporate organisations in the industry: The President of the Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria, Mr Nkereuwem Onung, his first Deputy Alhaji Aliyu Badaki, his second Deputy, Mrs Susan Akporiaye, and the FTAN Vice president in charge of the body in South West Nigeria, Mr Tunde Kolade, the Director General Nigeria Tourism Development Authority, Mr Folorunsho Coker, the Lagos State Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mrs Toke Benson Awoyinka, represented by the permanent secretary in the Ministry, Mrs Toyin Atekoja, the newly elected President of National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA), the President, Hotel & Catering Institute, Mr Gbenga Sumonu, Mrs Kehinde Daniel, Mr Adedayo Adesugba, tourism Ambassadors Isaac and Nneka of Goge Africa, the President, Association of History, Nature and Culture Tour Guides, Anago Osho, the host, Director General of Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Mr Ifeanyi Chukwunonso Okeke and many other notable names in the industry.

The event which was put together by FTAN, SON and Lagos State Government, was basically to inform, introduce and enlighten the sector about Standardisation of the best global practices.

Setting the pace, Chidinma Ewuzie of SON, had the floor. She painstakingly dissected the expectations of the global ISO TC 228, ARSO TC 76 and ECOWAS THC 6 and affirming this with a goodwill message on the issue from Natalia Ortiz de Zarate in Spain.

And if Chidinma gave a good presentation that clarified various aspects of the Standardisation process, procedures, certification, service delivery and so on, then Ebi Semodei, the GM, Ogeyi Hotel, Port Harcourt and former QA manager, Hilton Hotels, gave the icing on the cake with her brilliant lay man’s language presentation of Standardisation, quality assurance checks, compliance, corporate governance, training, performance metrics watch and feedback.

Yet the issues still stared everyone in the face, as question time brought out the frills of anxiety about the workability of Standardisation as laid on the table by SON. The private sector on one side, and then the government bodies viz a viz the Ministry of tourism, NTDA, SON, State Governments and so on!

At the end of the the day, what started so beautifully well with the impartation of knowledge and the eagerness to forge a common front on the issue of Standardisation, would have been entirely marred by the question mark, which role or roles should the bodies, the stakeholders play.

At this point, the President of FTAN, Mr Nkereuwem Onung, who as fate had it, was to be the next to mount the podium with a closing remark, brought together, the needed harmony, for the stakeholders at the conference to forge ahead.

“I stand on the premise earlier put forward by the Director General of NTDA, that collaboration is the way forward, to sanitize our industry with Standardisation. We have to come together, because it is only when we do it right, that we can stand tall among the comity of nations, and everyone related to the industry will benefit, the government, the private sector, investors, hotel guests and there will be creation of jobs because we are doing it right,” said Nkereuwem Onung.

Onung’s position was agreed upon by the Director General of the Standard Organisation of Nigeria, Mr Ifeanyi Chukwunonso Okeke, with his dramatic physical handshake with the DG of NTDA, Mr Folorunsho Coker.

So who does what? What roles do the government agencies and the private sector have to play to ensure Standardisation of the hospitality and tourism sector?

It was furthermore agreed at the conference, that the DGs will sit with themselves at a post conference meeting, fashion a way forward that will take the federal ministry into consideration, and involve the state governments and the private sector, as all agreed that standardisation is the way to go at this point.

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