The President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR has called on tourists and investors to invest in the tourism sector in Nigeria saying the country has invested heavily in the industry.

Buhari made this call at the opening ceremony of the 61st Meeting of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Commission for Africa (CAF) which held at the Congress Hall of the Transcorp Hilton, Abuja-FCT on Monday, June 4th, 2018 with the theme: “Tourism Statistics-A Catalyst for Development.”

Boss2Represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha, Buhari disclosed that apart from government’s investments in infrastructure that will help to promote tourism in the country, measures have also been put in place to provide security for all Nigerians, investors and tourists.

In his words “This government has attractive investment incentives for investors in the tourism sector including but not limited to: pioneer status to all major tourism projects; minimum tariff on imported tourism equipment, amusement park equipment and materials for hotel construction and furnishing, dedicated transportation for tour operators and equipment for restaurants not manufactured in Nigeria; minimum duty on casino equipments; work permit for foreign workers with specialized skills within the industry; and land at concessionary rate by state governments to tourism investors.”

Continuing, he said, the importance of tourism and its potentials to national economies cannot be overemphasized. Tourism, as we all know, contributes to the wealth of nations and the well-being of citizens, largely through foreign exchange earnings, generation of revenue, creation of employment, knowledge, cultural integration as well as increase the GDP of the country.”

He also maintained that government is deepening the legislative and institutional capacities for the protection of intellectual property rights in Nigeria which will go a long way to give investors the assurance that their rights, especially in the creative industry are secured.

In a welcome address, the Honourable Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, commended President Muhammadu Buhari for his support towards the successful hosting of the meeting. He said the theme of the meeting was apt as it came at a time Nigeria is looking for viable alternatives to oil. According to him, the hosting of the event in Nigeria is a testimony to the achievements of the Buhari administration towards boosting tourism in the country as it has identified the sector as key to the growth of the nation’s economy.

In his words “for us in Nigeria, we are doing everything possible to move tourism to the mainstream. It is one sector we have identified as key to the growth of the economy and this meeting provides an excellent opportunity to discuss ways and means to promote intra-Africa travels and tourism, leveraging on the continent’s vast and unique resources and our number, for mutual benefits to all member states.”

The Secretary General, UNWTO, Mr. Zurab Pololikashvili, in a remark, commended Nigeria for hosting the meeting, saying the tourism industry is a new industry that has the potential to unite countries on the African continent and there is need for the political will to make it thrive and achieve its goal in the global community.

He disclosed that although this is the first time he has worked with the Nigerian government, Nigeria has proved that it has huge potentials in the development of the tourism sector across the continent. “Tourism is increasingly becoming recognized as a vehicle for development and we can do it here in Nigeria. We can create and convert Nigeria to a main tourist destination in Africa because there is huge potential here”. He further commended the Nigerian government on its investment in the tourism sector which has improved seamless travelling especially the visa-on-arrival policy, security as well as general economic reforms.

The AU Commissioner for Infrastructure and Tourism, Dr. Amani Abou-Zeid, said tourism sector has the capacity to boost the economic life of the people as it accounts for about twenty one (21) million jobs in Africa. He also said the Union is stopping at nothing to ensure that tourism is giving its rightful place in the scheme of things.

The AU Commissioner therefore called for improved image for Africa as a strategy that will promote tourism, saying,our priority in the continent should be to optimize the role of tourism based on the agenda of NEPAD/AU action plan.”

The highlight of the ceremony was the presentation of award for responsible tourism to Nigerian born business mogul, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, who was represented by the Executive Director for Strategic Management and Corporate Communication of Dangote group, Mr. Ahmed Mansur.

The meeting was attended by tourism ministers from eighteen (18) African countries as well as key tourism stakeholders from 36 countries. Federal Executive Council (FEC) members present at the meeting were the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama; Minister of Environment, and Niger Delta. Present also were the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information and Culture, Deconness Grace Gekpe, who gave the vote of thanks, and Directors General of parastatals under the ministry, including the Acting Executive Secretary of the National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Mr. Louis Eriomala.