… UNWTO, FAO to Work Together on Developing Tourism for Rural Development
By Jimoh Babatunde
Nigerians have been charged to see tourism beyond entertainments and jamborees as often insinuated in the country.
The call came on the heels of the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to advance shared goals relating to the sustainable and responsible growth of rural tourism.
Dr Franklin Adejuwon, the First Commissioner for Home Affairs and Tourism in Lagos State, made the assertion during the celebration of the World Tourism Day organised by the Lagos State Ministry of Tourism.
Adejuwon said ” Tourism is an amalgam of most economic sectors and understanding it as such is most important.
” It encompasses the entire cycle of national planning and physical development, economic growth and wellness of the people. We refer to this sector as the largest employer of labour worldwide and the largest earner of foreign exchange exceeding earning from petroleum.
He added “Benefits from the sector are immeasurable hence prosperous countries take its development very serious, protect and respect the sector.
“It is beyond entertainments and jamborees as often insinuated here in Nigeria.”
Adejuwon said Lagos State has a leading role to play in the development of tourism in the country.
” today, we are celebrating the world tourism day in Lagos State but this should not be by the lips only.
“Lagos has been destined to be the vanguard of the sector’s development in Nigeria. This position is not by default but by reality of its natural endowments, historical positioning, physico-geaographical enrichment and indeed, as the gate way to our great country Nigeria.
“When the trumpet sounds in Lagos, it is echoed all over the country. Lagos state was the first to establish a ministry for tourism and Lagos state was the first to put in place a tourism policy. Lagos state was the first to open up the development of tourism proper in the entire country.
Adejuwon, also the former Chairman, Nigeria Tourism Master plan committee, said though tourism progress has been impaired by the COVID -19 pandemic, said “it is my strong belief the past can still be a challenge to the future and Lagos state will consequently bounce back to its leading role.
“Worldwide, Covid-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on the sector as the latest data shows about 65% drop in tourist international arrivals, but the sector is resilient and already getting prepared to bounce back.
” I am also optimistic of the would-be wonderful fate of the sector under the present executive governor of Lagos state-Babajide Sanwoolu once he is adequately advised.
He noted that state governor has shown the trait in his handling of the pandemic and the steering of other critical challenges.
“He is indeed the right leadership we need to revive the sector at this time.”
Meanwhile, The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding that will see the two agencies work together to advance shared goals relating to the sustainable and responsible growth of rural tourism.
In leading the sector’s response to COVID-19 and now guiding the global restart of tourism, UNWTO has been working closely with fellow UN agencies from the start of the current crisis.
This new MoU comes on the back of World Tourism Day 2020, which was celebrated worldwide around the special theme of Tourism and Rural Development. Under the agreement, UNWTO and FAO will build a framework for enhanced collaboration, including through the sharing of knowledge and resources.
UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “This Memorandum of Understanding between UNWTO and the FAO emphasises the cross-cutting nature of tourism and the importance of cooperation at every level to ensure the sector works for everyone. Both tourism and agriculture are lifelines for communities around the world.
The agreement is particularly timely as it comes as we recognize 2020 as the year of Tourism for Rural Development. This was also the theme of World Tourism Day, which we celebrated this week, highlighting the role tourism must play in providing opportunities for rural communities and driving social and economic recovery.”
Resilience, innovation and opportunity
This Memorandum of Understanding between UNWTO and the FAO emphasises the cross-cutting nature of tourism and the importance of cooperation at every level to ensure the sector works for everyone.
A central aim of the collaboration will be to increase the resilience of rural communities against social and economic shocks through growing tourism and making it both more sustainable and inclusive.
Across the FAO’s GIAHS (Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems) network of communities, tourism is a leading driver of equality, with the sector employing women and youth and giving them a stake in economic growth.
Tourism is also a protector of the rich cultural heritage that characterizes many of the communities within the GIAHS network, for instance through keeping folklore and other traditions alive for future generations.
Moving forward, the new MoU states that UNWTO and FAO will work together to establish a plan for more specific areas of collaboration. Key priorities, as outlined in the agreement, include encouraging entrepreneurship within rural communities, particularly among youth and women, with the aim of providing them with access to both local and global markets for their products. Other priorities include fostering education and skills so as to provide communities with opportunities within the tourism sector.