Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said on Friday that culture and tourism in the new world order are referred to as soft power because of their influence in economic and international relations.
Osinbajo stated this at the Grand Opening Ceremony of the Conference Hotel and Suites, Abeokuta, Ogun State.
He said the location of the facility in Abeokuta would attract international conferences organisers desirous of serenity and tourism potentials.
He said: “Indeed, many tourist sites are here in Ogun State including the Olumo Rock, all of the places we have around us today; I don’t want to go through the long list, the Presidential Library and Wole Soyinka Foundation Writers Retreat, and so many other tourist attractions.
“I doubt whether there is a need today to make a business or economic case for tourism.
“In fact, in the new world order, culture and tourism are not merely economic gold mines; they are often referred to as the soft power. In the years ahead, there is no doubt that tourism will increasingly become the driver of economic well-being and job-creator.
“According to the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), tourism and hospitality industry in Africa as a whole has a potential of 203.7 billion dollars, out of which only 50 billion dollars is developed due to poor infrastructure.
“UNWTO projects that international tourist arrivals to Africa in 2020 will be 77.3 million, representing an annual growth rate of 5.5 percent.’’
He said the government was investing massively in critical infrastructure such as railway and road construction to ease human traffic and movement of goods and position the country for a bigger share of the global tourism market.
The vice president said President Muhammadu Buhari had set up the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) to drive the Ease of Doing Business Reforms.
“Our simple mandate is to do everything to make sure that Nigeria becomes an easier place to do business.
“We are pushing the necessary reforms, cleaning up our airports, introduced visa on arrival, freeing up licenses and approval processes, among others and focusing on key infrastructural projects.
“For instance, earlier this year, I had the pleasure of commissioning the Lagos-Abeokuta railway. In fulfillment of the promise we made then, I am now pleased to announce that we have added the Lagos-Ibadan service; starting with free rides through the Christmas season– therefore linking Ogun, Lagos and Oyo States by modern railway.” (NAN)