President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed the readiness of Nigeria to host the first-ever Global Conference on Tourism, Culture and the Creative Industry in November this year.
Speaking yesterday, during a visit to the headquarters of the United Nations World Trade Organisation (UNWTO) in Madrid, the Spanish capital at the beginning of his State visit to the country, President Buhari, according to a statement issued by his Media Adviser, Femi Adesina,described the granting of the hosting rights as a “further proof of Nigeria’s support for the vision of the organisation and also an affirmation of the confidence reposed in our country by your organisation.”
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.
Buhari also thanked the Secretary General for granting 100 UNWTO Online Academy Scholarships on the ‘Introduction to Tourism-Industry Management’ stressing that this would further boost youth empowerment and education as well as address the manpower shortage in the tourism sector.
Earlier in his speech, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, whose Ministry facilitated the conference, said Nigeria was given the hosting rights at the 64th meeting of the UNWTO in Cape Verde in 2021.
He explained 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 organisation.
The minister emphasised 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.”
Also speaking, Secretary General of UNWTO, Zurab Pololikashvili, said the visit of the president was 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.