THe Minister of In-formation and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has charged states and local governments to leverage their unique culture and tourism products to generate income and create jobs.
In his keynote address at the opening of the 9th National Council on Tourism, Culture and National Orientation in Dutse, Jigawa State, on Friday, the Minister said the Federal Government has recognized the Creative Industry, of which culture and tourism are integral parts, as a key sector to create jobs and wealth and to earn foreign exchange, as reflected in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) 2017 to 2020.
‘’It is common knowledge that all the States and Local Governments have unique products, festivals and outstanding tourism sites. I, therefore, wish to also encourage all the Managers of Culture and Tourism at the State and Local Government levels to make the necessary efforts to develop these products and tourism sites in partnership with the private sector, in order to attract both domestic and international investors and tourists,’’ he said.
Alhaji Mohammed said countries like China, Brazil, India, United Kingdom, United States of America, France and Egypt, to mention a few, have mainstreamed culture and tourism as vital parts of their economic agenda to generate income and sustainable employment for their citizens, and redirect the energies of their youths for productive ventures.
He said against the backdrop of the fall in oil prices, the Federal Government was clear – right from the onset – in its determination to enhance the economic fortunes of Nigeria through the diversification of the country’s economy, with a view to reducing poverty, creating jobs, stimulating revenue generation, ensuring effective utilization of local resources and providing sustainable peace and security.
‘’This is why we have consistently been evolving policies and programmes to explore the tourism and culture sector, in collaboration with our partners and stakeholders, to reposition Nigeria’s economy. Against this backdrop, the theme of this year’s meeting is apt and in tandem with our Administration’s avowed commitment to boosting the economy through the non-oil sector,’’ the Minister said.
He disclosed that the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, in its bid to reposition the sector, has established 14 Cultural Industry Centres with necessary facilities across the six geo-political zones of the federation to serve as skills acquisition and capacity building centres for the country’s teeming youth and women, with the aim of creating wealth, generating jobs and boosting national GDP.
Alhaji Mohammed listed some of the major challenges facing the culture and tourism sector as the need to package the festivals and other tourist attractions into products that can be marketed and sold, as well as evolving a strategy to increase domestic and international tourism.
‘’Concerning international tourism, we have realized that our clear competitive advantage is our Film and Music industries. Whether it is Nollywood, Kannywood, or Afrobeat. Consequently, we will be harnessing them to promote our country as a tourism destination.
‘’Seeing our sites, people, culture and cities through films and music video should spur many to want to explore the country. That’s why we have reached an agreement with the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the global news channel CNN to showcase Nigeria globally, from the perspective of our film and entertainment industry. Indeed, packaging, marketing and thinking outside the box is the future of tourism,’’ he said.