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Thursday, 16 June 2016 06:24

Chika Balogun’s Magic Wand at NIHOTOUR

Mrs Chika Balogun, Director General National Institute For Hospitality and Tourism (NIHOTOUR) - promises suport for miss tourism anambra state

 

 

When she assumed office as Director General/CEO of the National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism (NIHOTOUR), Mrs Chika Balogun did not leave anyone in doubt not the least staff of the Institute, of her resolve to take the Institute out of the woods to greater heights and limelight in the biosphere of the Tourism and Hospitality industry of Nigeria and beyond.

With the sole intent to bring her experience as a quintessential technocrat and excellent manager of man and resources to bear on NIHOTOUR, Mrs Balogun came with the vision to transform the Institute into a world class ICT based training institute and dogged regulator of the industry aimed at producing high quality and excellent driven manpower for efficient service delivery of the tourism and hospitality sector in Nigeria and the West Africa sub region.

According to Mrs. Balogun, her mission in NIHOTOUR is clear:

To provide innovative world class manpower capacity for the industry using the tools of direct class based training and ICT based distance learning with an integrated internship system that competes favourably with the best Hospitality and Tourism Training Institutes in the world to produce quality & excellence driven professionals and graduates whilst vigorously setting out and enforcing an excellent regulatory framework that compels stakeholders and practitioners deliver on quality and customer satisfaction that fuels growth of the industry’

We must bear in mind that Tourism is the fastest growing industry in the world today; contributing substantially to the economies of most countries. It is the sector that stimulates development in terms of income, employment, foreign exchange earnings and taxation with the attendant multiplier and spill-over effects on all other sectors of the economy.

Internationally, tourism has grown in the last century to become the biggest and most diversified sector of the world economy. With a record of over 700 million visitors and total earning of more than 500 billion Dollars, tourism is indeed the main stream of the world economy. Unlike the oil industry that creates wealth with few jobs, tourism is not only a wealth creator, but it is an important agent and instrument for job creation.

In view of the realization of these economic potentials of tourism and the need to boost its growth through manpower and capacity development, the Federal Government of Nigeria in 1987 established the National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism (NIHOTOUR) With the assistance of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO)) as a Regional Centre of Excellence for the West African sub-region.

In Tourism and hospitality, both knowledge and technical skill acquisition are indispensable to successful enterprise. While the Universities offer general conceptual and theoretical knowledge, and the polytechnics, vocational and technical skills programmes, NIHOTOUR combines both and further includes professional, and technical skills upgrading programmes and managerial courses for the enhancement of performance and productivity.

 

Mrs Balogun swung into action by quickly familiarizing herself with staff of the Institute and the infrastructural facilities available to work with. She then went to the drawing board and laid out her plans to move the Institute forward, beginning with regular interactive sessions with all cadres of staff.

Next to receive her attention was the work place environment. To her, the need to have a conducive working environment is paramount to achieving the desired high level output from staff. Their spirit and morale to work most effectively and efficiently are hinged on a pleasant and favourable work place. This she did with the provision of the needed working materials such as furniture, Internet connectivity for ICT operations with equipments and most importantly she laced her relations with staff on a humane platform, ensuring she encourages and rewards excellent performance. This earned her the respect and loyalty from the staff necessary to put them up to the task of implementing the core mandate of the Institute.

When Mrs Balogun took over as CEO of NIHOTOUR in August, 2014, students of the Institute’s International Air Transport Association (IATA), and Universal Federation of Transport Association Agencies (UFTAA), professional examinations programme were just been registered for the 2014/15 programme. By March of 2015, they wrote the exams and guess what? NIHOTOUR came top in the entire African continent of all the IATA/UFTAA Training Centres! This is by no means a great achievement for the Institute. NIHOTOUR, primarily as a training Institute, has started on a good footing on the arrival of Mrs Chika Balogun.

 

To have a functional workforce capable to carry along her vision and mission at NIHOTOUR, Mrs. Chika Balogun assembled administrative experts at a Retreat she organised for Management Staff of the Institute held in Abuja. Here, staff were drilled for two days and came out well equipped to effectively carry out the responsibilities of their various offices.

Since inception, Mrs Balogun has visited several tourism-hospitality line Ministries, Departments and Agencies at both federal and states levels to seek for greater partnership and collaborations in the areas of promoting and developing the Hospitality and tourism sector of the nation’s economy. These include

Nigerian Export Promotion Council, (NEPC); This is to explore the potentials in the promotion of Nigerian Cuisines abroad.  Her meeting with the Executive Secretary of NEPC has led to the initiation for a Stakeholders’ Forum to effectively explore ways of exporting Nigerian food items through proper packaging, marketing and delivery.

Nigerian Communication Satellite Ltd (NIGCOMSAT); The Director General visited the Managing Director of NIGCOMSAT to solicit the support and cooperation of the Satellite agency to achieve her objective for internet connectivity and ICT operational platform for the Institute. The result of her meeting is that NIHOTOUR offices are now connected to the internet. This has also afforded the Institute to own and run its own website as well as initiates online registration and Distance Learning for its students.

Nigerian Export Import Bank (NEXIM); Finance is key to effective export of Nigerian Tourism and Hospitality products and services. The Director General’s visit on the Managing Director of NEXIM is to seek support and collaboration of the financial agency in the implementation of laudable hospitality and tourism training programmes of the Institute as well as seek for financial support and assistance to graduates of the Institute to establish hospitality and tourism businesses of their own upon completion of training.

Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR); Global institutions, scholars and other professionals involved in the tourism industry are aware of tourism’s potential for peace making. The major reason being that when people travel frequently all over the world, it helps them get to know new people, cultures, values etc. That experience is capable of increasing mutual understanding among people who have been living in diverse cultural backgrounds.

The promotion of peace through tourism is therefore fundamental to tourism practices globally. And it is because tourism means exchanging ideas and beliefs that it can be one of the most effective tools to promote mutual understanding, tolerance and peace.

For this reason, the Director General visited the Director General of IPCR with the view for collaboration and partnership to run courses on peace and conflict resolution in some of the NIHOTOUR training programmes. This has already led to the formation of a working Committee on the course content for Peace and Tourism. 

Mrs Balogun has worked tirelessly to secure accreditation of programmes run by the Institute from the National Board For Technical Education (NBTE);  In exercise of the powers conferred on it by the Education (National Minimum Standards and Establishment of Institutions) Act (No. 16, of August 1985), the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE), a parastatal under the Federal Ministry of Education, was granted the statutory mandate by the Federal Government to accredit all Nigerian Polytechnics, and similar tertiary technical institutions which are outside the mandate of the National Universities Commission.

It thus became incumbent on NBTE to implement decision of the government when the Federal Executive Council (FEC) at its meeting of Wednesday April 10, 2013 approved a Six-Level National Vocational Qualification Framework (NVQF) for the country. The framework as approved by the FEC, recognises Vocational and Technical Qualifications Structure within the National Educational System/Standards, and places same in the scheme of service.

As the Apex Hospitality and Tourism Training Institute and Personnel Services Regulatory Agency in Nigeria recognized and so approved by the NBTE, NIHOTOUR has upon her assumption of office pursued the NVQ 1-6 framework of training with the NBTE which the Institute successfully got NBTE’s approval as Trainer and Awarding Body. The NBTE has also appointed the Institute as the Sector Skill Council for Hospitality and Tourism in Nigeria

By this recognition NIHOTOUR is granted the mandate to develop and administer accredited qualifications, approving and monitoring of training centres and professionals in the hospitality and tourism industry as well as provide an adequate process for continuous professional development for every category of staff.

It is worth noting that the Sector Skill Council for Hospitality and Tourism in Nigeria was inaugurated at the headquarters of NIHOTOUR by Mrs. Chika Balogun, the Director General on Wednesday, 20th January, 2016 with representation of key stakeholders on the Board of the Council.

As part of the efforts to sensitize and mobilize state governments in the country to look into the hospitality and tourism industry towards diversifying their economies for job creation and revenue generation, NIHOTOUR has, through the efforts if the Director General, initiated and reached conclusion with some state governments to grow the sector.

To start with, BENUE STATE; In its efforts to grow its tourism potentials, the Benue State Government has entered into an agreement with NIHOTOUR to establish its Training Center in Makurdi, the state capital. The agreement which was formalized through an MoU will also see NIHOTOUR draw a tourism policy framework through the production of a Tourism Master Plan for the state. During the visit on the Benue State Governor, Dr. Samuel Ortom by Mrs. Chika Balogun, Director General of NIHOTOUR, both Benue state and NIHOTOUR agreed to work in partnership to train the personnel requirement of the state hospitality and tourism sector which will lead to job creation, youth empowerment and the growth of the industry in the state.

Benue State government has accepted to provide a temporary office and classroom accommodation, while NIHOTOUR will provide teachers as well as draw course contents for the programmes and courses for the training expected to commence in February, 2016.

Then Kaduna state, Because of NIHOTOUR’s presence in Kaduna State in addition to its function as a research, training and think tank of the nation’s hospitality and tourism sector, the Kaduna state government invited NIHOTOUR to come to its rescue in chatting the way to develop its tourism potentials. This, Mrs Chika Balogun, Director General, NIHOTOUR obliged by visiting the state and had talks with the State Commissioner for Commerce, Industry and Tourism with his officials.

The discussions has led to plans by the state government to commission NIHOTOUR to produce the State Policy on Tourism as well as a Tourism Master Plan that will effectively guide the state in developing a vibrant and viable tourism industry for job creation and revenue generation.

Next is ABIA STATE; The Abia state government recently held a stakeholders Summit for Urban Development of Aba, the industrial and commercial nerve centre of the state. NIHOTOUR was invited to make input in the areas of Hospitality and Tourism. Mrs. Chika Balogun, the Director General represented NIHOTOUR on the panels of experts at the Summit where she made a case for the development of the Hospitality industry in Aba in particular, and of tourism and hospitality for Abia state as a whole.

She had consultations with the state Governor during the Summit, with the result that plans are under way for the state to commission NIHOTOUR to draw a tourism policy framework for the state as well as training of personnel in hospitality and tourism to grow the industry in the state.

Mrs Balogun successfully organized the most populous Stakeholders Summit by the Institute for Tourism and Hospitality industry which saw in attendance virtually all those who mattered in the Tourism and Hospitality industry of Nigeria. That Summit brought a lot of goodies to the fore in the industry. Key players in the industry for the first time felt a sense of belonging and lauded the all-inclusive participation style of Mrs Balogun. As a result, associations of practitioners in the industry like FTAN, HOFA, HATMAN, etc became truly involved and engaged in an all encompassing activities in practise, growth and development of the industry.

The Summit also led to a communiqué containing far reaching policy decisions that will impact positively on the progress and development of the industry.

AHMED MOHAMMED SULE
Deputy Director, Public Relations

 

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