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Tourism under scrutiny as experts meet in Abuja

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Pres. Buhari at the State House received Mr Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-General of the UN World Tourism Organization(@UNWTO), and Zhu Shanzhong, Executive Director UNWTO.<br />#Nigeria is currently hosting the 61st edition of the UNWTO Commission for Africa (CAF) Meeting

About 27 ministers of culture and tourism and over 180 delegates from across the world are currently in Nigeria for the 61st session of United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO)/Commission for Africa (UNWTO/CAF) Meeting, which opened on Monday in Abuja.

Declared open by President Muhammadu Buhari, delegates at the meeting are expected to be in Lagos today for a special tour of Eko Atlantic City.

However, as these experts deliberate on the way forward for African tourism, would Nigeria take advantage of the proceedings to map a new pathway for the country’s tourism development?

The Guardian report last Sunday indicated the sorry state of tourism sites in Cross River State after succeeding governments spent billions of naira to develop them.

The Cross River State example is a miniature portrait of Nigeria’s negligent attitude to its tourism plan or planlessness.

However, President Muhammadu Buhari, represented by Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, informed delegates that steady efforts were being made to diversify the economy through agriculture, solid minerals development and tourism.

He stressed that the present administration has injected about $9 billion to strengthen its investment in power, roads and railway, which are necessary infrastructure for tourism development.

He stated that the administration, having identified the tourism sector, as one of the pillars of its diversification policy, is also investing heavily in infrastructure and human resource development in order to make Nigeria a choice destination for tourists.

Meanwhile, a member of the Federal House of Representatives, Engr Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama, had recently decried the neglect of the culture and tourism sector of the economy.

Speaking in an interview with The Guardian, the lawmaker remarked that the development makes a mockery of the quest by government to diversify the economy.

Ogbeide-Ihama, who is Chairman, House Committee on Culture and Tourism, stated that the situation was worsened due to the poor funding of the sector over the years.

He argued that government stands to make immediate gains from the sector, saying it could strengthen the unity among Nigerians.

“Basically, I will say in terms of development and growth, it has not been too fantastic,” he submitted.

“And why am I saying this is because this administration has said clearly that it (tourism) has become imperative to diversify the economy.

“However, in President Buhari’s policy direction in terms of diversification, I think he is more focused on other areas like agriculture and solid minerals.

While I have no fault in diversification towards these sectors, I strongly believe that the tourism and cultural part of it would yield faster results.

We are a diverse nation with diverse people with cultural differences, ethnic backgrounds and different religious backgrounds and we have wonderful tourist destinations. But they are all laying neither dead nor are they rehabilitated.”

Recently, Vice President, South East wing of Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN), Lolo Ngozi Ngoka frowned at the inability of Nigeria to fully develop the tourism sector and join the league of top earners in the continent.


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