Written by Austine ELEMUE

FCTA to partner NTDC on tourism development

The FCT minister, Malam Muhammad Bello, has given the indication that the administration plans are afoot to reposition Abuja as a conference destination in Africa and as a hub for domestic tourism and investment.  

Bello gave this insight while receiving the management team of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation, NTDC, led by its new Director General, Mr. Folorunsho Coker, who paid him a courtesy call.  

According to him, the rail station system traverses important scenes of the Abuja eco-system and landmarks and will, among other qualities, unveil to tourists, the beautiful reliefs and panoramic landscape of the territory.  

The minister revealed that out of 12 network of metro stations, 5 have been already completed, adding that other low hanging fruits expected from the Abuja light rail system, would include a boost to domestic tourism.  

He said, “Within the next two to three months, the Abuja light rail system phase one will be functioning. Phase One is a municipal rail system that will emanate from the airport, right to the centre of the city and terminating at what we call the metro plaza station.  

"That gives people coming to Abuja or leaving Abuja option of coming to the city by light rail without having to drive the 45 kilometers expressway distance, even though, on its own, the expressway offers a beautiful window on the city.”  

Bello, while noting that commuters have the option of moving from the city centre to the airport, he however, expressed belief that most of these plans will be accomplished by leveraging private sector investment because of the poor record of the public-sector interventions in the sector.  

In his remarks, the NTDC DG stated that the corporation plans to reverse the drifts out of Abuja during weekends and holidays, stating that it is unacceptable that a city that is one of the best in terms of tourism assets in the country, should appear empty during these periods.  

Coker disclosed that NTDC has come out with a social media hashtag called #myAbujaweekend, as one of its efforts to reverse this drift.  

His words, “We have negotiated and reached memorandums of understanding with some airlines and major hotels who also see the potentials of using their hotels and aircrafts. We hope to achieve a price of N50,000 for Lagos-Abuja-Lagos and two nights in a five-star hotel inclusive of airline ticket.”  

This, the DG stated, is an introductory offer to get people to see the value and rich potential of Abuja and expressed hope that the plan would drive revenues into hospitality and boost commerce in Abuja.  

Coker, further disclosed that NTDC has created a brand called Countdown Nigeria, an end-of-year ceremony that would welcome Nigerians and, indeed, the world into the New Year as is the tradition in most great cities in the world.  

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