As countries across the world consciously seek ways to boost tourists receipts, the Nigerian High Commissioner in the United Kingdom, Dr Dalhatu Tafida, and the Director-General of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation(NTDC), Otunba Segun Runsewe, Tuesday, in London, took stock of efforts made so far to raise the number of tourists from the United Kingdom to Nigeria, while tackling what they perceived as barriers to high tourists receipts.
Runsewe, who led management and staff of the corporation from the Excel Centre, venue of the ongoing World Travel Market, to the High Commission, observed that the long queues which was a major feature around the High Commission had disappeared.
The visit, Runsewe noted, was to acknowledge the work the commission was doing to facilitate travels to Nigeria. "We are aware that Nigerians and other nationals who come to the commission for passports, visas and other assistance are now treated with great hospitality. London is the main hub of activities for Nigerians in the diaspora, and if we get the process right here, other countries will follow," Runsewe said.
On his part, Ambassador Tafida stated that the High Commission had undergone massive transformation in line with the Transformation Agenda of President Goodluck Jonathan.
According to him: "People now get passports and visas without tears at the commission, we have processes that can give you visas in one day, we have the facility now and anybody who says he or she cannot get visa between one and seven days is telling a lie or carrying fake documents."
He explained that people do not have to know any official of the commission to get anything they seek. "All you need to do is to apply online and you get an appointment, after which you are given your passport," the ambassador stated.
Tafida however stressed that tourism is a form of rebranding "and if we can put in much of the oil money, we can do away with oil in the near future," he added, saying further that "we have a lot to show the world, but we need good roads, security, accommodation and other support facilities to boost the fortunes of tourism in Nigeria."
The commission however commended the passion with which Runsewe had been promoting the nation's tourism industry and urged him to come up with a sales strategy to raise tourist traffic from the United Kingdom.
In his response, Runsewe hinted that religious tourism was fast gaining ground in Nigeria, citing figures of people who attend the annual convention of some Nigerian churches yearly. "These movements from across the world to Nigerian churches impact on the airline industry, hotels, food business and other allied business," Runsewe said.
Adding that his agency was sanitising the hotel sector with hotel registration, insistence on the use of CCTV cameras and other world class practices to raise the profile of hotels in the country.
He presented copies of the new books published by the tourism agency to the High Commissioner.