Following the impressive performance of newly appointed Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to Governor Douye Diri on Tourism Development, Mr Tamaramiebi Abiri, Chairman of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Bayelsa State Council, Comrade Samuel Numonengi, popularly known as the Oracle, has again applauded the governor, insisting that technocrats should be given opportunity to manage the tourism sector which for long has been left in the hands of politicians who knew anything about the tourism industry.
The NUJ chairman who gave the commendation at a dinner, hosted by the SSA for members of Travel Writers’ Corps of the Bayelsa State Council of NUJ held at Mathos Crystal Hotel, Yenagoa, penultimate Sunday, said Mr. Abiri, an expert in international tourism management, has what it takes to market Bayelsa State as an attractive tourism destination to woo investors in the sector.
He noted that Mr Abiri has the qualities that are needed to drive the tourism promotion-mix, which to do with positive advertisement, massive publicity, public relations, personal selling, and sales promotion about the tourism offerings in the state, pointing out that these qualities are considered very significant in attracting tourists and convincing them to visit tourist attractions in the state.
According to Comrade Numonengi: “to be successful in the hospitality industry, you must be committed to ensuring that customer satisfaction is addressed through training which the state-owned tourism institute has to provide. You must do whatever it takes to keep customers happy and create an environment where customers want to aalways come back.
The Senior Special Assistant to the governor on Tourism Development, Mr Tamaramiebi Abiri, in remarks laid so much emphasis on the urgent need for proper training, describing tourism training as the process of providing guidance and education to increase the skills and capacity of staff members of tourism facilities, adding that: “the primary objective of the hospitality industry is to provide great customer service. Companies who specialize in hospitality want their guests to have a fantastic experience.”
Mr Abiri hinted on plans to collaborate with the International Institute of Tourism and Hospitality Yenagoa to organise executive training on tourism policies and strategies to strengthen the capacity of tourism managers in both the private and public sectors, noting that developmnt of the capacity of workforce in the tourism sector with special focus of on vocational skills to provide opportunities for job creation and wealth, was the right way to go in the post Covid19 Pandemic era where all attention is focused on domestic tourism.
The SSA who holds a diploma in Travel Agency Management, in addition to an Advanced diploma in Tourism Management from West London College, a Bachelor of Science degree in International Tourism and Hospitality Management from University of Sunderland, UK and a Masters of Science in Marketing Management, from Oxford Brookes University, Oxford thanked the governor for giving him the opportunity to serve the state in the present capacity.
He however, lamented the absence of integrated tourism education and training opportunities that would incorporate policy makers, planners, researchers, designers, architects, interpreters, conservators and tourism operators, reiterating that such knowledge gaps in the tourism industry industry could hinder the development and growth of the sector in the state.
“Because the hospitality industry is extremely competitive, providing good service, is necessary to stay ahead of competitors. Good training can give staff the knowledge and ability to create a customer focused experience. A company that provides great customer service is more likely to retain customers and stay competitive.
“Training helps staff to feel valued and appreciated. This, in turn, creates a better work environment and makes the staff more capable of handling a variety of situations. In hospitality, companies must adhere to several compliance regulations, including food safety and sanitation, identity protection and customer information management, including laws on services provided. Training the workforce on local compliance is important to our success in the industry. Continued training can increase compliance and ensure that the workforce has the right tools they need to be successful,” he maintained.
According to him, training and teaching of the appropriate skills necessary for a strong workforce which is the primary role of the state-owned International Institute of Tourism and Hospitality Yenagoa, is to guarantee that the graduates of the tourism institute provide great customer service after graduation.
Also speaking, the Bayelsa state chairman of Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN), Mr Ebikibina Iyoro, said as umbrella body for Nigeria’s organized private sector operators in tourism, FTAN from its inception 21 years ago has supported investment tools that facilitated tourist infrastructure and destination promotion policies, informing that the body has been partnering with national and international research and statistical agencies to enhance the tourism offerings of states.
Mr Iyoro who expressed the federation’s readiness to partner with the government to provide technical support for the development and promotion of the tourism sector, said the state branch was willing to liaise between government agencies and the organized private sector to grow the tourism sector.
In his remarks, Chairman of Travel Writers Corps of the NUJ, Mr Piriye Kiyaramo, popularly known and addressed as Mr Tourism in Bayelsa state, reiterated the role of the media in tourism promotion, maintained that the media play various aspects in the tourism promotion mix, especially in spheres like social interaction, cultural and educational aspects of our life.
Mr Kiyaramo said the media contribute greatly in activating tourist attractions and that the media are playing an important role in the growth, development and promotion by creating better awareness and understanding to cater to the needs and requirements of domestic and international tourists, informing that every traveller is a ‘potential’ tourist.
He assured that the travel writers will always go into partnership with credible individuals and organisations in promoting Bayelsa tourism industry, while thanking the SSA for hosting the travel journalists to sumptuous dinner, being the first of its kind among political appointees in the sector.
From Piriye Kiyaramo in Yenogoa