By BARBARA KALU
Nigeria and the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) on Friday in Madrid, Spain, signed an agreement on the hosting of the 61st UNWTO Commission for Africa (UNWTO CAF) Meeting 4-6 June 2018 in Abuja.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, signed for the Nigerian Government while UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili signed for the global tourism body at a ceremony at the UNWTO Headquarters in the Spanish capital.
The agreement, the signing of which was witnessed by the Nigerian Ambassador to Spain, Her Excellency Susan Aderonke Folarin, among others, contained the conditions for organizing the meeting as well as other details.
Speaking at the signing, the Minister said the Nigerian Government plans to use the opportunity of hosting the meeting to showcase the best of Nigeria to the world, saying Nigeria has comparative advantage and has taken the world by storm in the area of music, movies, theatre and other aspects of the Creative Industry.
He thanked the UNWTO and its member states for their confidence in giving Nigeria the hosting right for the meeting, and assured that the country would host a top class event.
”Nigeria does not take the confidence for granted and will not disappoint. In this regard, the meeting’s main organizing committee, as well as the sub-committees, are leaving no stone unturned to stage a highly-successful meeting.
”All delegates coming to Nigeria for the meeting are assured of Nigeria’s legendary warm hospitality and an exposition of the country’s sight and sound. We will showcase the best of our entertainment industry that has taken the world by storm,” Alhaji Mohammed assured.
The Minister said the hosting of the meeting is coming at a time that Nigeria has become a top destination for investors, especially with the Nigerian stocks having risen 12% this year, the highest globally, and the fact that Nigeria has moved up 24 places on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business ranking, earning a place on the List of Top 10 in the world.
He also said Nigeria has started implementing visa on arrival for a certain category of foreign visitors, a development that he assured will impact positively on the country’s tourism sector.
Welcoming the Minister earlier, the UNWTO Secretary-General said the organization would assist Nigeria to develop and showcase its tourist attractions.
”We are glad we are coming to Nigeria in the summer. It is a good opportunity to showcase Nigeria,” he said, while urging the Minister to help identify Nigerian celebrities who can be appointed as the UNWTO’s ambassadors of tourism.
The delegations of the Minister and the Secretary-General later met to review the agenda of the 61st CAF Meeting, the UNWTO’s forthcoming Technical Support Mission to Nigeria and other issues related to tourism development in Nigeria.