President Muhammadu Buhari is set to declare open the United Nations World Tourism Organisation/ CAF Meeting on Monday, June 4 -6 in Abuja.
Speaking during the opening press briefing for the UNWTO/CAF Meeting at Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja on Sunday, June 3, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed stated that the country will use her hosting of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation/ CAF Meeting to showcase her rich cultural diversity, since culture drives tourism.
Lai Mohammed said the country will host the best UNWTO-CAF Meeting ever as all the necessary preparations have been made to ensure that.
He restated that that Nigeria is safe for its citizens, for foreign tourists and investors.
The Minister observed that whatever pockets of criminal acts that exist are being addressed squarely.
He maintained that the event will put tourism on the front burner as tourism is the fastest means of creating jobs diversifying the economy so as to focus less on oil and more in tourism.
To aid the growth of tourism in the country, he said the federal government has simplified the visa process as tourist can get visa on arrival to the country, invested in super infrastructure to grow tourism,
He said the Ministry, main committee, as well as the many sub-committees, have worked tirelessly to make the event a huge success.
The Minister stated further that it has confirmation from 166 foreign delegates, 26 Ministers and 332 Nigerian delegates with many more delegates expected.
He explained that the theme of the meeting, ‘Tourism statistics as catalyst for development,” fits very well into the country’s quest to improve on her tourism statistics for planning purposes and tourism development.
Alhaji Lai Mohammed said Nigeria and other African countries will seek to take advantage of the conference to improve on the contribution of tourism to their countries Gross Domestic Product.
He disclosed that the federal government attracted $6billion investment in the last quarter of the year, moved up in the Ease of doing business which are all aimed at promoting tourism through flexible visa policy, among others
He outlined that the programmes lined for the event to include a welcome cocktail for the delegates on Sunday evening, grand opening ceremony, to be performed by President Muhammadu on Monday, June 4, Ministers’ meeting. the Technical Seminar and the meeting on Tuesday which will be wrapped up on Wednesday by the Technical Visit to Lagos,
The Minister noted that the technical visit will take the delegates to the breathtaking Eko Atlantic City in Lagos, adding that the Ministry decided to save the best for last.
In his words: “It is common knowledge that culture drives tourism We will, therefore, use the occasion of this meeting to showcase the rich and diverse culture of Nigeria. Some spectacular cultural events have thus been lined up for the meeting. At this evening’s cocktail, delegates will be treated to the Seki Dance Drama from the South-South, a spectacular and colourful show like no other. On Monday and Tuesday, there would be a command performance of the globally-acclaimed ‘Fela and the Kalakuta Queens’ by Bolanle Austen-Peterswhich will take the centre stage at the Gala Night. Words are not enough to describe this show.
Then of course we have other shows like the Drum Assembly, the Ekemini Dance group from Akwa Ibom, the Benue State Cultural Troupe, and the Ebonyi State Cultural Troupe”.
Speaking also, the UNWTO Secretary General, Mr Zurab Pololikashvili applauded the federal government for the fantastic organisation put in for the event.
Pololikashvili said the UNWTO is committed to the promotion of tourism in Nigeria and Africa .
He stressed the potential of tourism to create jobs in Africa, adding that the future of Africa is tourism.
The UNWTO scribe stated that the body is committed to the creation of jobs across Africa.
He said what the UNWTO needs from Nigeria and other African countries is security, good legislation and others to attract tourist investment to the continent.