By Jimoh BabatundeÂ & Laide Akinboade
As a means of keeping the populace and stakeholders in the Nigeria project informed about government activities and programmes, the Ministry of Information came up with the idea ofÂ Ministerial press briefings, which enable Ministers to give account of their stewardship.
It was the turn of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation last week to give account of its activities for the year 2009 and programmes for this year.
So, it was not surprising to find stakeholders in the tourism and culture sector of the economy gathered last week in Abuja to listen to the Minister of Tourism & Culture, Senator Jubril Gada reel out the scorecards of his ministry in theÂ discharge of its mandate for the year 2009.
â€œThe richness and diversity of the Nigerian culture are a manifestation of the socio_cultural differences ofÂ her more than 250 ethnic groups.
In his speech â€œ Achieving Sustainable Socio-Economic Development through Tourism, Culture and national Orientationâ€ the Minister said though the country offers a wide variety of tourist attractions, such as fascinating beaches; unspoiled nature and climatic condition conducive for holidaying, he regretted that many of these attractions are still largely untapped.
â€œThe lack of modern infrastructural facilities and the acute condition of underdevelopment and poverty which many potential Nigeria bound tourists may not like to be confronted with is a drawback.â€
The Minister disclosed that the ministry in 2009 with the collaboration of the various stakeholders made great efforts at confronting some of the identified challenges, and position the sector in the vanguard of the continuing efforts to transform Nigeria into a tourist destination of note.Gada maintained that the main thrustÂ of the Federal Government is to generate foreign exchange, encourage development, and promote tourism based rural enterprise, generate employment and accelerate rural urban integration and cultural exchange.
He said the Ministry is therefore committed to â€˜repositioning tourism as a key sector for economic growth.â€™
While urgingÂ the various state governments in the country to use the National Tourism Master plan as a guide for their respective State Tourism Master plan and Tourism, the Minister said thatÂ Tourism Master plan implementation committee will be reconstituted this year for efficiency as the committee has failed to pull its weight since inauguration.
Before presenting the scorecards of the three operational departments, three service departments and the nine parastatals in the ministry, Senator Gada said the successes recorded last year arose from the concerted efforts of the professionals and technocrats in the ministry, â€œclose collaboration with all stakeholders at the states and local government levels, as well as those in the private sector.â€
On tourism promotion, the Minister disclosed that the ministry pursued the development of quality tourism products and supporting infrastructures in five identified clusters of the Tourism Master Plan.
â€œIndeed as part of the ongoing implementation of Nigeriaâ€™s Tourism Development Master Plan, the ministry engaged in the construction, supply and installation of two billboards each at five identified tourism sites in Tinapa; Olokola Cultural resort; Ancient city of kano; Museum of traditional Nigerian Architecture and Farin Ruwa waterfalls.â€
While noting that the country is an active member of UNWTO, he said the ministry has successfully negotiated and signed Bilateral Agreements with China, Algeria, Niger and South Africa in the area of tourism.
Senator Gada added that in 2009, the mapping of tourism sites and production of maps of tourism sites and attractions in Nigeria were carried out on the geographic Information System.
The Minister also
disclosed that in the outgone year, that the 6th National Council on Tourism, Culture and national Orientation was held in Sokoto where far reaching decision were taken toward improving the national revenue base through tourism.
Bello GadaÂ Â said at the council meeting, the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) was directed to collaborate with the statesâ€™ tourism boards in the finalization of the classification of hotels in the country.
The minister disclosed that the sum of N500million was appropriated for the presidential implementation committee on National Archives and national Museums for the rehabilitation, renovation and reconstruction of physical infrastructures of the museums as well as the maintenance of Archival materials.
Speaking on the
parastatals, the Minister noted that the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) aligned its activities with the culture and tourism objectives of the Federal Government as well as its socio- economic vision of poverty alleviation, employment generation and wealth creation with the framework of the sevenÂ points agenda, vision 20-20-20 and the Millennium Development Goals.
â€œTo generate the much needed awareness about the tourism potentials of Nigeria, the present management of the corporation is constantly engaged in aggressive marketing campaigns at both local and international levels.â€
The Minister said that the NTDC has continued to boost domestic tourism by encouraging stakeholders and tourism practitioners as the corporation has embarked on vigorous and comprehensive regulatory framework to ensure that only credible individuals are allowed to do tourism business in Nigeria.
He added â€œ the NTDC has been fully engaged in the encouragement, support and promotion of cultural festivals across the countries, by way of generating mass awareness of these festivals and giving logistics, professional and material support to these festivals.â€
Senator Gada listed some
of the achievements of the corporation to include the introduction of GPSR Navigator for motorists in Nigeria; Electronic maps of the 36 states on GSM handset; directional signages that give direction to tourists; the multi purpose studio built within its premises as well as the first ever Tourism RadioÂ commissioned by the Vice President last year.
He assured Nigeria that the Ministry in 2010 will ensure the promotion and development of tourism in the nation by establishing cultural industries in 774 local government areas in the country as thisÂ will create jobs for the youths in such areas.
Senator GadaÂ added that as Nigeria marks its jubilee celebration this year, “the ministry along with its development partners will be in the forefront of promoting and developing the tourism and culture sector to fulfill the administration’s seven points agenda.”