Security agencies on red alert over insecurity and fraudulent tourism operators
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Security agencies on red alert over insecurity and fraudulent tourism operators

Security agencies in Nigeria have again re-affirmed their determination to support the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), in its statutory obligation to sanitise the tourism industry, hence the declaration of war on fraudulent tourism operators.

Security agencies such as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), State Security Service (SSS), the Nigeria Police, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) gave the assurance at a stakeholders meeting organised by the NTDC at Planet One Hotel, Maryland, Lagos, recently, while promising to make best practice the standard of the tourism industry.

Speaking at the forum, the Head of Operations, EFCC, Lagos State, Mr Zubairu Muazu, declared that the slow growth of the industry as a result of indiscipline among practitioners; he advised the tourism stakeholders to be mindful of fraudsters and money launderers who use hotels and event centres as hideouts.

“The rules and guidelines are clear about the tourism industry, so to avoid unnecessary confrontation with the laws of the land, hoteliers are expected to do away with anything that will discredit the business and standard of operation,” he said.

Also, in a firm support of the NTDC practical efforts at bringing a new lease of life to the hospitality industry through the grading and classification of hotels in Nigeria, the Head of Public Relations, SON, Mr Rilwan Adebola, urged the hoteliers to abide by the industry standard.

Adebola, explained that if there were no skeletons in their cupboards, no outfit would refuse the process of registration.
”Our major responsibility and task at hand is to work holistically at making the tourism a virile industry by flushing out the fraudulent ones,” he added.

Previously, the Nigeria Police in synergy with the NTDC in a letter dated July 2, 2009, with ref. CB: 3380/IGP.SEC/ABJ/VOL.1/58 and signed by the Inspector General of Police has sent a standing order to all police zonal, state and divisional commands in enhancing security in the tourism and hospitality industry.

However, the letter made available at the stakeholders forum read in part; “In the light of the Federal Government’s effort at sanitising the tourism industry and repositioning it for accelerated growth, the NTDC is to work in close partnership with the Nigeria Police in enhancing security in all the hotels and other hospitality enterprises nationwide.

“Accordingly, all Police Zonal, State and Divisional Commands have been directed to accord your corporation every necessary support in the registration of hotels and other hospitality enterprises and in such other ways, the assistance of law enforcement agencies would be required in sanitising the tourism industry in the interest of national security.”

Earlier at the venue of the stakeholders’ meeting, the Director-General, NTDC, Chief Olusegun Runsewe, while speaking on tourism as a vehicle for sustainable economic development vis-a-vis national security, explained that tourism could not develop in an environment of chaos and insecurity because tourism was highly sensitive to perception of danger and lack of safety.

Runsewe pointed out that since tourism required national security to grow, security agencies also required the full support and cooperation of tourism practitioners to effectively secure the nation, the stakeholders meeting became imperative to review and put in place strategic policy for the overall interest of the country and national security.

Answering questions on the prevailing attempt by Lagos State to embark on the grading, classification and registration of hospitality and other tourism establishment, the NTDC boss maintained that the NTDC as the apex tourism body in Nigeria was empowered to regulate, coordinate and harmonise all activities in Nigeria.

“To enable the corporation perform its regulatory function effectively, the hospitality and tourism establishment (regulation, grading and classification) regulation bye-law was enacted by the Federal Government in 1997, which section 1, sub-section 3 of the bye-law, binds any person from operating hospitality outfit without the prior knowledge the NTDC. It reads: ‘No person shall operate a hospitality or tourism establishment unless he has obtained and is in possession of a current certificate of registration from the corporation.’

“However the Supreme Court which is the highest court, saddled with the interpretation of laws of the federal republic of Nigeria has taken up the case with Lagos State and we are still awaiting the rule on the matter.”

On the issue of multiple taxation and tourism development fund/bank to assist stakeholders to expand their horizon to meet up with global trend, Runsewe promised to set in motion mechanism to look into the prevailing anomalies.

“Tourism Development Fund is a significant area of interest as it will boost the public and private sector initiative. It will be one of the major considerations we intend to focus on in 2011,” he said.

Runsewe also frowned at the frequent harassment of tourists and water tourism operators by security operatives on the Lagos waterway, especially at the Takwa Bay Beach, and called on the partnering security operatives to intervene in the matter.

Writte By: Wale Olapade
Date: 2011-01-28


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