A News Analysis by Idris Abdulrahman, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
Nigeria’s tourism sector looks set for an unprecedented boost as it will host no fewer than 51 member states of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) at its 61st meeting from June 4 to June 6 in Abuja.
The hosting right was confirmed at the 59th meeting of the UNWTO Commission for Africa (CAF) and a Technical Seminar on Tourism Statistics in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, after affirming Nigeria’s status and capacity for such regional and global events.
CAF is one of the six regional commissions of the organisation established in 1975, including commissions for Europe, Asia, Asia Pacific and Middle East.
With the hosting right of the event, stakeholders expressed optimism that Nigeria’s tourism and culture sector would receive a boost, considering the UNWTO’s status as the leading global organisation known as an agent of developing and sustaining universal accessible tourism.
Even as players and other stakeholders prepare for the event, African ministers of tourism, delegates, executives of UNWTO, international organisations, tourism experts, international and local media, have indicated interest to be in Nigeria as parts of the event.
Organisers of the event in Nigeria have also made adequate arrangements to ensure that the occasion is optimally utilised in showcasing the country’s rich culture and tourism to the world for patronage.
The sub-committees of the event, drawn from both the public and private sectors to ensure the comfort and effective participation of delegates, have also left no stone unturned to ensure a worthwhile hosting.
Proposals, including on finances, accommodation, transportation, publicity, security and protocol services for the event are being harmonised by the relevant organs of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture.
The main Organising Committee and other stakeholders are working hard to enliven an array of events lined up for delegates in such a way to convince the visitors of the compelling values of Nigeria’s culture and tourism sector and the need to invest.
Apart from exposing the potential of the country in that regard to the world, delegates are also expected to discuss the challenges, prospects and implementation of the general programme of work concerning the development of African region.
To add value to the event, UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili who assumed office in January says he will arrive in the country to witness the occasion.
At the inauguration of the Planning Committee of the event on Jan. 23, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who is also the chairman of the committee, enumerated the benefits of hosting the international fiesta.
“It is to project Nigeria’s image as a safe and desirable destination for leisure and business as well as promote the country’s tourism potential and services,’’ Mohammed said.
He said the country would have the opportunity to consolidate on the ongoing technical assistance by the UNWTO in the implementation of the Nigerian Tourism Development Master Plan.
According to the minister, the occasion affords delegates, mostly experts, a historical platform to interact and exchange ideas, best practices in the industry as well as training of both public and private sector tourism practitioners.
Similarly, stakeholders have also expressed the belief that foreign exchange would be generated through accommodation in hotels, airfares and souvenirs expected to be purchased by foreign delegates.
Providing further insight to the epoch-making event, the minister said the rules and procedures of the organisation specified its programme to include meeting of African tourism ministers, high-level technical workshop and packaged tours.
Mohammed’s stance on the event notwithstanding, tourism experts and stakeholders, including the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation and the Institute of Hospitality, insist that all hands ought to be on deck to make Nigeria proud at the event.
They note that the overwhelming understanding and interests of all involved in the organisation of the event are to place tourism on the spotlight and project the industry as a viable alternative to oil.
According to them, the event is apt and coming at a time that the current administration is placing high premium on diversification of the economy through agricultural development and exploration of the vast tourism potential of the country. (NANFeatures)
**If used, please credit the writer as well as News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)