The Federal Government has expressed its determination to take advantage of the potentials in the country’s tourism sector by providing unique opportunities and the enabling environment for the development of a consistent and long-term framework for private investors.

Honourable Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed disclosed this, Thursday, 17th December, 2015 at a workshop organized by the Department of Domestic and Eco-Tourism Promotion and Control in the Ministry at Nanet Suites, Abuja-FCT on the theme: “Mainstreaming Tourism into the Economic Agenda of Government: Issues and Challenges.”

Represented by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Mrs. Ayotunde Adesugba, the Information and Culture Minister said government identifies tourism as a veritable option for sustainable development and is determined to fully exploit its potentials in Nigeria, as one of Africa’s major tourist destinations.

His words: “As the nation grapples with the daunting challenges of re-strategizing the gains of its democracy and also occupies its pride of place in the comity of nations, tourism has been identified as a veritable option for sustainable development.”

Lai Mohammed, who acknowledged the uniqueness of tourism as an important economic sector, which is evident in its ability to employ skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled manpower, however, said the nation is still faced with the challenge of building a resilient and dynamic economy that is well placed to harness the country’s abundant resource endowment.

According to him, the nation’s past experiences highlight the shortcomings of a development strategy that placed premium on foreign exchange earnings from non-renewable natural resources, which he said, have very limited potentials for addressing the development challenges facing the country today.

He expressed optimism that in spite of the challenges being faced by the country, the collaborative efforts of the public and private sectors can still give room for development and improvement in the areas of infrastructure, enhancing investor confidence through provision of adequate security, establishment of Tourism Development Fund, sustainable institutional framework for Public Private Partnership (PPP), as well as consistent government policies for private investors to base their expectations, among others.

Similarly, the Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Ayotunde Adesugba, whose address was read on her behalf by the Director of Planning, Research and Documentation in the Ministry, Alhaji Inuwa Garba, expressed the view that with the global recognition of tourism as a major contributor to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the potentials presented by the Nigerian tourism sector can indeed sustain the nation’s development.

She therefore advised that with the current economic downturn, which is as a result of the dwindling price of oil in the global market, Nigeria must, as a matter of urgency, shift attention from oil as the mainstay of its economy to tourism and other major non-oil sectors.

Other dignitaries present at the event was Executive Secretary, National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Dr. Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma; the Honourable Commissioner, Benue State Ministry of Arts, Culture and Tourism, Hon. Sekav Iyortyom; Director, External Cultural Relations, Mr. George Ufot; Director, Entertainment and Creative Industries, Miss Grace Gekpe; NICO’s Director, Orientation & Cultural Affairs, Mr. Alex Omijie; as well as SA-ES NICO, Mr. Law Ezeh, among others.

Caleb Nor

Corporate Affairs Unit

NICO, Abuja