Collaboration crucial to creating robust regional tourism confederation — ECOWAS

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By Mark Longyen

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) says strategic alignment and collaboration with the private tourism sector are crucial in creating a robust regional tourism confederation across West Africa.

ECOWAS Commissioner, Economic Affairs and Agriculture, Massaudje Toure-Liste, stated this at an ECOWAS strategic meeting with officials and stakeholders in Abuja on Tuesday.

The event was aimed at aligning stakeholder strategies to foster their collaboration.

Toure-Liste, who was represented by the acting Director, Private Sector, Anthony Elumelu, said the meeting’s focus was to advance sustainable regional tourism, economic growth and preservation of natural and cultural heritage.

“This meeting draws inspiration from the ECOTOUR 19-29 Action Plan, adopted by the Authority of Heads of State and Government, envisioned to serve as our road map for promoting responsible tourism.

“To ensure effective implementation, we have established a regional monitoring and control mechanism that involves the ECOWAS and UEMOA Commissions, public institutions, private stakeholders and local communities.

“To this end, our technical meeting today centers around drafting the operational modalities for two critical tools.

”They are the ECOTOUR 19-29 monitoring and evaluation mechanism and the ETAR. These mechanisms will play a pivotal role in shaping the future of regional tourism,” she said.

The commissioner explained that the ECOTOUR 19-29 Monitoring and Evaluation Mechanism would involve developing operational guidelines and appointing dedicated members or focal points to oversee its implementation.

 “Toure-Liste said, ”Let us embrace this opportunity to shape the future of tourism in our region. Together, we can create a sustainable, vibrant, and culturally rich environment that benefits all.”

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Also speaking, Folorunsho Coker, the Director-General, Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), said domesticating the policy was crucial to its success, adding that the common goal was to grow tourism across ECOWAS.

The  NTDC boss also said that collaboration among all the stakeholders was critical at the moment, stressing that it was the season to collaborate, and not to compete.

“So, the domestication of this policy is very important to its success. We have a common goal. Our goal is to grow tourism across ECOWAS. Once that is identified as our goal, the commonality of our goal makes us pliable, to collaborate.

“It is the season to do joint marketing campaigns, not individual campaigns, from our hotels to our airlines, to our tourism assets across the ecosystem.

”It is in the spirit of collaboration that we will grow our Pan African tourism,” he said.

Coker also emphasized the importance of human capital requirements in modern day tourism, and called for training and the deployment of technology in order to achieve the desired success.

He urged African journalists to refrain from sensational reportage and instead embrace developmental journalism, adding that sensationalism was harmful to tourism.

“Development journalism allows the positive to be echoed. If we put a negative in, they (foreigners) will amplify it for us.

”So, let us restrain from what is sensational and simply focus on what builds our tourism here,” Coker added.

ECOWAS Programme Officer, Tourism, Madame Stella Drabo, said the major challenge facing the policy was the need for a single regional body for the private sector, which would work “hand-in-hand and one-on-one with the ECOWAS Commission.”(NAN)

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Edited by Bashir Rabe Mani

Philip Daniel Yatai

Principal Correspondent, NAN Abuja

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