The Federal Government says with massive investment in infrastructure and deliberate policies to promote peace and security, it is laying the foundation for the transformation of the tourism sector.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said this on Tuesday in Abuja when he received Mr. Dato’ Ku Jaafar Ku Shaari, the Secretary-General of the D-8 Organisation for Economic Cooperation.
The D-8 Scribe visited the minister to seek the cooperation of the ministry in promoting tourism among member states.
Shaari also used the opportunity to invite the minister to a meeting of the organisation on tourism holding in Malaysia in March 2019.
Mohammed said upon inception, the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari identified tourism as one of the key sectors for diversifying the economy away from oil.
He said the government understood that peace, security and infrastructure development were key to the development of tourism and invested massively on them.
“Without peace and security, travel advisory will be discouraged or even prohibited and people will not invest in an area where there is insecurity.
“Nigeria is blessed with a lot of tourism attraction and in developing them and making the country a tourist destination, government has invested in infrastructure and in making the country secure,” he said.
He said government had recorded remarkable improvement in security than it was in 2015, by decimating the Boko Haram insurgents and restricting their activities to the Lake Chad fringes.
Mohammed said government and the security agencies had strategised to contain the insurgents and win the war.
On infrastructure, Mohammed said in the last two years, the government had invested over N2.7 trillion on the development of the sector, a figure higher than what the previous administration spent in 16 years.
Specifically, he said government was investing in roads, rails, power, airports which would in turn aid the development of the tourism sector.
He noted that after agriculture, tourism was the largest employer of labour in Nigeria and that government was doing everything to develop the sector.
He said the president recently directed the Bank of Industry, BOI and the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, to give easy access to funding of tourism investments particularly from the private sector.
The minister gave the assurance of his support to the D-8 scribe and promised to attend the organisation’s summit on tourism holding in Malaysia next year.
Earlier, Ku Shaari said Nigeria was an important member in the promotion of cooperation, particularly on tourism and health among the D-8 member- nations.
He said the organisation was promoting cooperation among D-8 member-states to boost tourism to generate employment and development.
Specifically, he said the body would work towards developing eco-tourism, cultural tourism, food tourism, sports tourism and service tourism among member-nations.