The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) on Sunday declared that tourism is the future of Nigeria as it reiterated its readiness to support the country in developing the sector.
Mr Zurab Pololikashvili, UNWTO Secretary-General, made the declaration in Abuja at a pre-conference media briefing he jointly addressed with the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.
Pololikashvili and other executives of the organisation arrived in Nigeria early Sunday morning for the 61st UNWTO Commission for Africa (CAF) conference holding from June 4 to June 6 in Abuja.
Nigeria, last year, won the right to host UNWTO-CAF conference, which is the gathering of all African Ministers of Tourism, principal executives of the global tourism body and other stakeholders in the tourism sector.
Pololikashvili said Nigeria has lots of tourism potential to show to the world and the meeting would serve as a platform to showcase the country as continental tourism hub.
He commended the President Muhammadu Buhari led administration for identifying tourism as one of the sectors for economic diversification.
He said that tourism is gaining weight as a development opportunity for the whole continent, with its vast diversity of nature, culture and its greatest vehicle for development.
Pololikashvili said that tourism has huge potential to generate lasting development opportunities in Africa and Nigeria in particular, if managed in the right ways.
He said that Africa is UNWTO’s top priority in the area of tourism and investment promotion.
He mentioned some of the UNWTO’s agenda for Africa to include; poverty alleviation, climate change, education and skills development and financing.
“There are broad impact of tourism for the benefit of societies and its people, and promoting tourism as a priority in national agendas, ” he said.
The secretary-general said that UNWTO is planning to restore the training of journalists across African continent for better reportage.
The minister welcomed Pololikashvili and his team to the country, noting that Nigeria is the first the secretary-general would be attending his first UNWTO-CAF meeting since assumption of office in January 2018.
Mohammed said Nigeria is all set to host the best UNWTO-CAF Meeting ever, adding that all necessary preparations had been made to ensure a successful meeting.
“We also expect an impressive attendance. As at today, we have confirmation from 166 foreign delegates, 26 Ministers and 332 Nigerian delegates, excluding the gentlemen of the press.
“Several delegates have arrived and many more are expected in today,” he said.
The minister said that the theme of the meeting ”Tourism Statistics: A Catalyst for Development” fitted very well into our quest to improve on the nation’s tourism statistics for planning purposes and the ultimate development of tourism sector. (NAN)