The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, has stated that Nigeria would soon emerge as one of Africa’s leading destinations for new investments in the tourism and hospitality industry, and that the launch of the country’s tourism identity was an occasion that would inform peoples and nations of the world about Nigeria’s great endowments..
President Jonathan stated this at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Thursday, 4th July, 2013, during the official launch and unveiling of Nigeria’s Tourism Identity Brand, “Fascinating Nigeria,” a brainchild of the Federal Ministry of Culture, Tourism and National Orientation.
Represented at the event by the Vice President, Arch. Mohammed Namadi Sambo, the President stated that, there was no denying the fact that the travel and tourism sector had become a major contributor to global economy, noting that, apart from travelling for leisure, tourism had become a serious avenue for business, investment, education, diplomacy and relations among people and nations of the world, as it helps in enhancing national understanding and appreciation, as well as providing the foundation for building lasting socio-economic relationships around the world.
Speaking further, President Jonathan noted that, the 2013 Economic Impact Report of Global Travel and Tourism Council, put the total contribution of the sector to global GDP at US 6billion, and the total number of jobs created through travel and tourism globally, at about 200 million, adding that, Nigeria’s tourism sector contributed 3% to the country’s GDP in 2012, while the total number of employment created by the sector was put at 2.6%.
He informed, therefore, that with this encouraging statistics and the rapid growth associated with the culture and tourism sector, Nigeria will soon emerge as one of Africa’s leading destinations, for new investment in the hospitality industry.
In view of this, the present administration’s determination to transform the sector for the benefit of the present and future generation of Nigerians will be underscored by positive investment and provision of infrastructure as well as infusion of projects and activities that will enhance the rise of sustainable development in the tourism sector.
To this end, he said, “I have directed the Ministry of Trade and Investment to work with the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and National Orientation, to develop specific mechanisms that will stimulate and sustain investment in this very important and fascinating area of our economy.”
According to him, his administration was committed to encouraging greater collaboration with the private sector to help in upgrading and enhancing some of the country’s tourist and cultural centres in the short and medium term, adding that the National Theatre in Lagos, will be developed as a duty free entertainment centre, so as to make it a unique Cultural Heritage Centre, which would serve as a world class hub of entertainment and leisure.
Furthermore, Mr. President informed that, government was also determined to complete the National Cultural Centre in Abuja, also known as the Millennium Tower, and called on the private sector to partner government towards the completion of that landmark, which he noted, was designed to provide world class business and entertainment facilities for the promotion of Nigeria’s heritage, culture and values.
Emphasizing the importance he attached to the creative industry, President Jonathan said, his administration was working on enhancing the budget of the Federal Ministry of Culture, Tourism and National Orientation, to enable them have greater impact, and that to achieve this goal, he had directed the Federal Ministry of Finance to come up with creative funding options for the sector, not necessarily from government budgetary allocation, but sourcing through public private partnership basis.
The President stated, therefore, that the official launching of the Tourism Identity Brand for Nigeria was commendable because it aligned fully with the focus and plans of government to transform the culture and tourism sector into joining the league of countries that draws significant revenue from this important and entertaining industry, noting that he believed that the launch of ‘Fascinating Nigeria,’ would help to proclaim, globally, the new and exciting things happening in the country with the Transformation Agenda.
On that note, he launched Nigeria’s first Tourism Identity Brand, ‘Fascinating Nigeria,’ which, he said, was for the promotion of the abundant human and natural resources spread across the length and breadth of our great and truly fascinating country.
Earlier in his address, the Honourable Minister of Culture, Tourism and National Orientation, High Chief Edem Duke, the brain behind ‘Fascinating Nigeria,’ stated his commitment to take Nigeria to a higher level using the tourism brand, especially at this trying moments in Nigeria’s history, where the country needs to be seen through wide and open doors in a positive light, adding that with this brand, Nigeria will be properly positioned in the global tourism market.
He explained that culture and tourism, as an enterprise, was one of the top four economic sectors in the world, and Nigeria, being a country of over 160 million people, was equally a country of over 160 million creative minds and diverse cultures, defined as accommodating and among the happiest people in the world, and so, should leverage on this diversity to open the door for income generation for the country.
Duke further affirmed the versatility, creativity and the enormous possibility that abound in the culture sector in Nigeria, stressing: “This is the only sector that architects, engineers and doctors would abandon their professions and would rather become artists. A sector that accommodates every professional calling,” and that with the tourism brand, our voices as Nigerians would be heard on every stage where culture and tourism will be projected.
He also disclosed his vision to develop and position Nigeria among the top 20 countries in the world through culture and tourism with the help of business associates from United Arab Emirates as official marketers of Nigeria’s Tourism brand.
Dignities present at the occasion include the First Lady of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and President, African First Ladies Peace Mission and Tourism Ambassador of Nigeria, Dame Dr. Patience Goodluck Jonathan, represented by the Honourable Minister of Women Affairs, Hajiya Zainab Maina, the President of the Senate, Senator David Mark, represented the Chairman, Senate Committee on Culture and Tourism, Senator Hassan Barata, the Speaker, Federal House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, represented by House Majority Leader, Hon. Mulikat Adeola, the Chairman, House Committee on Culture and Tourism, Rt. Hon. Ben Nwankwo, the Special Adviser to the President on Ethics and Values, Mrs. Sarah Jubril, the Executive Governors of Benue and Cross River States, Rt. Hon. Gabriel Suswam and Senator Liyel Imoke, the Executive Secretary of the National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Dr. Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma, as well as all Directors-General of cultural parastatals and Directors in the Ministry, including the Director-General of Rivers State Tourism Development Agency, Mr. Sam Dede, Nollywood Actors and Actresses, Nigerian Musical Icons, Stand-up Comedians, Captains of Industries, Members of the Diplomatic Corps, and other guests.
Jonathan N. Nicodemus and Njideka Dimgba