BY Fidelia Ben-Udi
The Honourable Minister of the Federal Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism in Nigeria, Lai Mohammed has expressed delight at hosting the Global Tourism Conference in Lagos State Nigeria, stating that tourism is an important source of foreign exchange earnings, job creation, income generation, infrastructural development and poverty reduction.
The Minister referred to tourism as the new oil while reiterating the theme of the three day event “linking tourism, culture and creative industries: pathways to recovery and inclusive development” which held at the national theatre, Lagos.
He disclosed that global tourism sector has shown uninterrupted growth for decades, stating that prior to the pandemic, the number of international arrivals sky rocketed from 277 million in 1980 to nearly 1.5 billion in 2019.
He further stated that the “the sustainable growth of the sector illustrates how tourism with its added advantage of inexhaustibility and resilience, can assist countries to reap the benefits of globalization.
Mohammed stressed: “Tourism, culture and creative industries are highly globalized with the capacity to move nations from poverty to prosperity” seeing how it is making an impressive comeback despite the uncertainties encountered, such as the pandemic.
He therefore extended a warm welcome to all stakeholders present including several African Countries, expressing excitement at the feasibility of sustainability and inclusiveness, and prospects that abound from these inter-linked sectors.
Earlier, the Secretary General, United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Zurab, Pololikashvili, said that “tourism has the power to spur and expand business and job opportunities, as well as drive inclusive socio-economic development globally” accounting for 7% of global trade prior to the pandemic.
Emphasizing the link between tourism, culture and the creative industries, Pololikashvili said that as at 2020, revenue on music was 300 billion naira, 170 billion naira on film, 2 trillion naira on fashion and 1.2 trillion naira on beauty/hair care.
He made this disclosure to explain that as tourism recovers from the impacts of the pandemic, culture and the creative industries will play a major role in the months and years ahead.
The Secretary General stressed that the implementation of adequate policies and effective strategical mechanisms to better link tourism to culture and creative industries will help local communities, create and capitalize income and wealth.
The Honourable Commissioner for Culture and Tourism Delta State, Lawrence Ejiofor, who was also present at the event in company of some of his staff, reiterated in an interview with the press, the devotion of the Okowa administration to the tourism sector, siting the instance of the Delta State film village and leisure park as proof.
He expressed delight at the siting of the venue for the conference in Nigeria, stating that it would afford more Nigerians the opportunity to attend in hopes that takeaways from the event, would impact directly on the Countries present especially Nigeria.
With several African countries in attendance, the opening of the event featured a question and answer segment with the students of Pampers Private School asking questions on tourism and culture, while the Secretary General and the information Minister proffered answers.
Other activities featured include; expert workshops on tourism and culture, tourism and the creative industries, on linking tourism, culture and the creative industries, amongst others.