BY OMITOSIN JIDE CYPRIANO with State House report
President Muhammadu Buhari Wednesday in Madrid, Spain expressed the readiness of Nigeria to host the first-ever Global Conference on Tourism, Culture, and the Creative Industry in November this year in a conducive environment.
Speaking during a visit to the headquarters of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in the Spanish capital at the beginning of his State Visit to the country, President Buhari described the granting of the hosting rights as ”further proof of Nigeria’s support for the vision of the organization and also an affirmation of the confidence reposed in our country by your organization.’’
He noted that the event would provide yet another opportunity for the country to showcase its tourism and creative industry to the whole world.
“It will also serve as an opportunity to extend our warm hospitality to the world and introduce the country’s leisure and business sectors to potential investors. We have not-so-well-known wonders to reveal!”
President Buhari assured participants from across the world of “a safe and secure environment as well as excellent facilities,” adding, “we look forward to welcoming all participants.”
The President affirmed that the country had been consistent in supporting the organisation since joining in 1975, noting that Nigeria had also been elected Chairman of the Commission for Africa between 2005 and 2007.
The President used the opportunity to thank the Secretary General for granting 100 UNWTO Online Academy Scholarships on the ‘Introduction to Tourism-Industry Management’ stressing that this will further boost youth empowerment and education as well as address the manpower shortage in the tourism sector.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, whose ministry is facilitating the conference, said Nigeria was given the hosting rights at the 64th meeting of the UNWTO in Cape Verde in 2021, explaining that “our plan is to host the event in the iconic National Theatre in Lagos which is currently being massively refurbished for the first time since its commissioning some 46 years ago.
He added that since the announcement of the rights, preparations had started in earnest in conjunction with the UNWTO to ensure that Nigeria hosts a world-class event to justify the confidence reposed in the country by the organization .
The Minister emphasized that Nigeria intended to “leverage on the conference to showcase what makes Nigeria tick in culture, tourism, music, film, gastronomy, fashion, photography and why Nigeria has become a global leader in music and film, especially.”
In his remarks, Secretary General, UNWTO, Zurab Pololikashvili said the visit of the President is a direct confirmation of how important tourism is to Nigeria, describing Nigeria as “a big country with huge resources in culture, nature and diversity .
“We have a long term commitment with Nigeria to develop tourism and attract more and more tourists to Nigeria. The numbers are very small at the moment and I think it’s a shame. Nigeria has to receive much more tourists to see the beauty and meet the people.”
He assured the President of his support in promoting the diverse culture of Nigerians and Africans to the world.