Nigeria, UN set to revive tourism master plan

Solomon Chung, Madrid

In an effort to diversify Nigeria’s economy from oil, Nigeria and the United Nation World Tourism Organisation have agreed to revisit and fine tune the country’s Tourism Master Plan as well as to revive and make effective and result oriented the Presidential Council on Tourism in a speedy and efficient manner.

This agreement was sealed during the visit of Nigeria’s Information and Culture Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed to the headquarters of the UNWTO in Madrid, Spain.

At the high profile and technical meeting, the Nigerian Information and Culture Minister briefed the gathering about happenings in Nigeria’s socio-political realm.

In his submission, he said the country is passing through a difficult period due to crash in the prices of crude oil but the government was putting everything in place to get the country out of the wood.

Even though he admitted that the country was going through a difficult period, he mentioned successes in the area of security, economy, and fight against corruption as well as prospects in the areas of agriculture, solid minerals, tourism and culture among others.

“We need serious capacity building for us to achieve our goals in the tourism and culture sector. We need capacity in areas like Tourism Satellite Account, data gathering as well as other technical assistance. I have special interest in the empowerment of women in tourism and I want the UNWTO to assist Nigeria also I that regard. Once the woman folk are empowered, it would go a long way in stimulating the local economy,” he explained.

Alhaji Mohamed said Nigeria has learnt her lessons the hard way and has resolved not to repeat the same mistake again and that is why the government is doing everything to diversify the economy away from oil.

He also revealed to the gathering that the strategy for the diversification is anchored around Tourism and Culture, Solid Minerals, Agriculture among others.

He said in as much as the government is planning to revamp the tourism sector, there are a few challenges militating against the drive.

The issues of dearth of infrastructure, insecurity and policy inconsistencies are strong hindrances but we are working towards overcoming them.

“In as much as insecurity is a challenge in developing the tourism sector, it is not peculiar to Nigeria alone. Insecurity is faced everywhere in the world that is why we believe that with proper investment in perception management, Nigeria can still attract the desired traffic of tourists.”

He also said with the deliberate injection of 30% of the 2016 budget into capital expenditure, it will go a long way in revamping some of the infrastructure deficit in the tourism sector as well as other sectors.

Meanwhile, the Secretary General of the United Nation World Tourism Organisation, Mr. Taleb Rifai said the development of Tourism in Nigeria is in the interest of every stakeholder in the tourism world over.

“Nigeria is the largest country on the continent and the most populated as well, so once the country gets it right, it will naturally set the pace for other Africa countries. The potentials are there; it is a reservoir of talent and ideas and as such must be tapped”, he stated.

He however told the country’s Information and culture Minister that the organisation was not satisfied with the way the Nigerian Tourism Master Plan was handled in the past.

“The political will for the implementation of the Master plan was lacking. But we trust and believe this administration to do the right thing this time around.”

At the meeting so many offers were given to Nigeria to host some of the organisation’s events and also an idea of organising such events at conflict zones in the country was discussed.

The event also witnessed some technical sessions where experts brainstormed on how to revamp tourism in Nigeria.

The United Nation World Tourism Organization is the United Nation’s specialised agency mandated with the promotion of responsible, sustainable, accessible and universally accessible tourism. The organization’s membership includes 157 countries, Nigeria inclusive.