The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has said his ministry is partnering with the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) in the implementation of the National Tourism Development Masterplan, in order to optimally harness the country’s tourism potentials.
The Minister disclosed this in Abuja when he declared open the Fourth Tourism Investors Forum and Exhibition, organized by the Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN).
“Ladies and gentlemen, I wish to draw your attention to the fact that the programmes and policies to fully harness the country’s vast tourism potentials over the next one and half decades are anchored on the National Tourism Development Masterplan. In order to ensure its full implementation, the Ministry sought and secured the support of the UNWTO to assist in the implementation of the Tourism Masterplan,” he said.
The Minister, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Deaconess Grace Isu-Gekpe, said pursuant to the implementation of the Masterplan, the UNWTO is already seeking the support of some donor agencies to assist Nigeria with funds for the execution of the project on the Strengthening of National Tourism Statistical System and the development of a Tourism Satellite Account for Nigeria.
He said this became necessary because lack of accurate statistics on arrivals and receipts is one of the major problems militating against the development of tourism in Nigeria.
Alhaji Mohammed said the Ministry of Information and Culture will soon inaugurate a National Consultative Forum that will review the recommendations of the UNWTO Post Technical Mission Project Document, with membership of the Forum drawn from all critical stakeholders in the Tourism Sector, including FTAN.
He said the private sector is critical to the development of tourism in the country, hence the government’s decision to build an enduring framework for Public-Private Partnership (PPP) to provide the required confidence for prospective investors.
The Minister said the government has fashioned out tourism investment incentives such as tax exemption for up to three years, export/Import Incentives, land at concessionary rate and work permit to foreigners with specialized skills in order to attract private sector investment.
In his remarks, the President of FTAN, Mr. Rabo Saleh, commended the Federal Government for the construction of the Abuja-Kaduna Standard Gauge Railway and the Abuja Light Rail, saying the provision of infrastructure and security is critical to the development of tourism in the country.
He appealed to the media to always avoid portraying the country in the negative light in order not to de-market the country and scare away potential investors and tourists.