By GRACE AUDU, Abuja
Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has said the stage is now set for the 61st edition of the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Commission for Africa (CAF) Meeting, which Nigeria will host from 4-6 June 2018 in Abuja.
The Minister gave the assurance in Benin, Edo State, on Friday when he paid a courtesy/promotional visit to the State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki.
“Your Excellency, with the support of many stakeholders, I can boldly say that we are ready to host a very successful meeting. The various committees and sub-committees that we have put together to prepare for the summit are doing a great job. We will not disappoint,” he said.
Alhaji Mohammed said Benin City, being a repository of a rich culture, cannot be ignored in the preparation for the global tourism meeting, hence the decision to visit the city as part of the ongoing nationwide advocacy tour for the meeting.
He said the meeting will afford Nigeria the unique opportunity to expose her rich culture to the rest of the world, in addition to exploring the theme, Tourism Statistics: A Catalyst for Development, to generate the much-needed statistics for the development of the tourism sector in Nigeria.
“For Nigeria, this is a great opportunity. In addition to the socio-economic gains, the event will put Nigeria, and the nation’s tourism industry in particular, on the world map, attract foreign research experts and promote the necessary network that will form the basis for future cooperation. Nigeria will also get a rare opportunity to showcase itself to the world: Its tourist attractions, its rich culture, as well as its music and films, which have become the toast of the world, “ the Minister said.
Alhaji Mohammed, who solicited for the support of the Edo State Government towards the successful hosting of the event, used the occasion to formally invite the Governor to the event.
In his remarks, Governor Obaseki said the state government believes in the ability of tourism to significantly contribute to the economic development of the nation in general, and noted that Edo has so much to show the world.
“As it relates to the UNWTO CAF conference, as a state just like you explained, we believe that we have the greatest tourism potentials.
“We understand the benefits of tourism to any evolving and emerging economy. A country like Indonesia whose GDP was four times less than that of Nigeria in 1994 today has a GDP five times that of Nigeria. The economy of Indonesia is grown by two key contributors to their GDP: oil palm and tourism,” he said.
While pledging the support of Edo State towards the hosting of the event, Governor Obaseki commended the Minister for his untiring effort in educating Nigerians on the policies and programmes of the Federal Government.
“We appreciate the perspective and illumination you have continued to give federal government programmes and policies. Times are difficult especially with the difficult economic environment we find ourselves, and it takes a man of competence and knowledge like you to explain for the people to understand what this government is doing to alleviate the sufferings of the people,” he said.