The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has endorsed the implementation of five action plans to develop Nigeria’s tourism sector.
The Secretary-General of UNWTO, Taleb Rifai made the disclosure on Wednesday in Madrid, Spain at the conclusion of a two day meeting with the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.
Speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) after the meeting, Rifai said that the world tourism body took the decision to assist Nigeria because of the commitment of the administration to diversify the economy.
He said that the decision by President Mohammadu Buhari-led administration to develop tourism was in the right direction.
He said: “Nigeria is the largest and most populous country in Africa. It is a reservoir of talents in the field of creative arts, music talents, entertainment and every other areas of tourism.
“Utilising all these potentials into tourism development is a welcomed development.
“I have seen a fresh new breed of thinking and a fresh commitment and seriousness in addressing the issue of placing tourism on the front burner of economy.
“One of the 11 jobs created all over the world is on tourism and 10 per cent from the world GDP is from tourism.
Rifai promised that UNWTO would help Nigeria review its Tourism Master Plan and adjust it to the current challenges in the sector.
He recalled that the organisation contributed to the production of the master plan in 2005, adding that its implementation was not taken seriously by previous administration.
Rifai said that the organisation would assist Nigeria in convening the first meeting of the Presidential Council on Tourism as well as another body that bring together all the stakeholders in the sector.
“We have identified a number of needs including technical support in data collection for the elaboration of tourism statistics.
“UNWTO will also assist Nigeria in the area of rural tourism development by training local communities in becoming host for tourists.
“This will provide sustainable economic growth for the people in the rural area, particularly, women.
“We will also prioritise technical assistance in the area of hotel classifications,’’ he said.
He said the organisation would stage world tourism day in Nigeria which would bring and engage all stakeholders together in the public and private sectors.
In the area of capacity building, Rifai said that the organisation would assist Nigeria train festival managers that would bring commercial values to festivals.
The information Minister thanked UNWTO for the offer, stating that it would help to fast-track tourism development in Nigeria.
He said that a two-year time line had been set to achieve most of the action plans.
He reiterated the commitment of the federal government to continue with the unilateral relation between Nigeria and UNWTO.