By Rotimi Ijikanmi
Addis Ababa – The right won by Nigeria to host the United Nation World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) conference in 2018 has been described as “”a global endorsement of programmes and efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari’s Administration”.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said on Thursday in Addis Ababa that the hosting right reiterated the confidence the global community has in Nigeria.
Nigeria, on Wednesday, won the right to host, in 2018, the 61st meeting of African Ministers in charge of Tourism tagged UNWTO Commission for Africa (CAF)
Mohammed, who led Nigeria’s delegation to Addis Ababa for the 59th edition of the meeting and a high level meeting on Chinese Outbound Tourism in Africa, said the country would leverage on the hosting opportunity.
““Wednesday was a big moment for Nigeria here in Addis Ababa because Nigeria got the endorsement of the whole world to host the 61st session of the CAF mission of the UNTWO.
““What that means really is that the entire world has endorsed the programmes and efforts of President Buhari’s administration,’’ he said.
Mohammed said that hosting the conference should be seen in a bigger picture that “Nigeria “is once again on the global stage’’.
He said the event would provide the country, the opportunity to showcase its diverse culture and give its own narrative from its own perspective.
“Hosting this conference will give confidence to investors that this is a country they can come and invest in.
“It will also convince the entire world that Nigeria is serious in promoting culture, music, film and entertainment industry to diversify its economy,’’ he said,
The minister said that no amount of money invested in hosting the conference could be seen as waste because of the goodwill it will bring to the country.
He said so many other countries were bidding to host the event to boost their tourism industry and attract goodwill to their nations.
Speaking in same vein, the Secretary General of UNWTO, Taleb Rifa said “the endorsement of Nigeria for the hosting of 61st CAF “is a great piece of news for the country’’.
““I am absolutely sure that with the hosting of the CAF meeting, you will see that the Nigeria’s tourism industry will get on the right track and achieve results.
““In addition to the direct economic benefits this event will bring to the country, the limelight the country will be exposed to is unquantifiable.
“Nigeria will be hosting all Ministers of Tourism in Africa, that itself will send the powerful message that tourism is important for Nigeria.”
Rifai said Nigeria was a major player in tourism industry and the UNTWO had missed the country in its fold until the minister launched it back last year.
““Nigeria is one third in times of number and the weight it represents in the arts, the movie and the creative industry in general in Africa.
“What comes out of Nigeria in these areas of the industry is enough to be disseminated to the whole world.
“However, Nigeria is not utilising that yet and this conference will be a great opportunity to realise that,’’ he said.
Rifai commended the passion and efforts of the minister at repositioning the tourism and creative sector.