President Muhammadu Buhari says his administration will provide the required enabling environment for arts, culture and tourism to thrive and develop through the massive upgrading of infrastructure and the provision of security.
The President stated this in his address at the ongoing National Summit on Culture and Tourism, which was delivered by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Okechukwu Enelamah.
He promised to encourage public and private sector participation and partnership in all the desired areas including Transportation as well as Beach and Resort development in a deliberate effort to develop tourism as a catalyst for economic growth and diversification of the economy.
“As a result of the combination of various factors such as the sharp drop in the price of oil, combined breakdown of protectionist policies and changes in social relations, countries are compelled to look for alternative sources of revenue and employment.
“Tourism therefore, is a resource of development and means of providing an additional opportunity for a non-industrialised country like ours, to diversify its economic base for the betterment of all,” he said.
While urging participants at the Summit to develop appropriate policies and the right attitudes towards achieving the desired goals, President Buhari underscored the role of culture and tourism in integrating communities and promoting peace and harmonious co-existence among the diverse cultures in Nigeria.
“Tourism brings individuals and human communities into contact and, through cultures and civilisation, has an important role to play in the diversification of any economy. Tourism also has the capacity to assist the world inhabitants to live better together and thereby contribute to peaceful co-existence between peoples and cultures,” he said.
According to the President, the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture has a critical role to play in leveraging on the diverse cultures in Nigeria to inculcate the tenets of the nation’s cultural values of integrity, honesty, sincerity and God-consciousness in the citizens.
”It is therefore my hope that your deliberations will focus on the need to make use of culture and tourism as instruments of social mobilisation for national revival. I charge the Ministry of Information, Culture and National Orientation to effectively liaise with other relevant Ministries and Agencies to work out appropriate programmes including actions and measures that would help in fighting the scourge of these social vices brought about by the collapse of our value systems,” he said.
In his address, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said his ministry in the last six months had taken a bold step to convert the nation’s huge cultural and tourism potentials into vast opportunities for revenue generation and job creation.
“Your Excellency, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, in the last six months or so, we have been working quietly to see how best we can reposition Culture and Tourism. We are happy to report that we have been working in collaboration with the British Council and the Tony Elumelu Foundation to achieve our objective, which is to, in practical terms, move away from paying lip service to these Sectors in order to harness their potentials,” he said.
Alhaji Mohammed also disclosed that the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has agreed to work with Nigeria to develop a two-year plan to help boost tourism in the country, which he described a major breakthrough, considering that Nigeria has not even appeared on the radar of the global agency for several years now.
He said the culture and tourism sectors are not just about creating jobs or earning revenues, they also help to stem rural-urban migration, foster unity, ensure holistic and inclusive growth as well as reduce crime.
The Minister said in its effort to reposition the entertainment industry, his ministry has set up the ministerial committee on the Motion Picture Council of Nigeria (MOPICON) with a view to fast-tracking the process of passing the MOPICON Bill into law in order to give the movie industry better wings to fly higher.
Alhaji Mohammed called for a holistic approach by all stakeholders to surmount the challenges impeding the development of tourism in the country in order to create a conducive environment to attract tourists into the country.
“Developing the tourism sector requires the collaboration of other stakeholders, notably the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Interior and those responsible for infrastructure, the security agencies, the tour operators, etc. We also need to push for a friendly visa regime, like designating certain countries whose citizens can obtain visa on arrival. This will boost tourist arrivals tremendously.
“The challenge before us, ladies and gentlemen, is to work out long term strategies to develop our Culture and Tourism Sectors and move them into the mainstream of the economy, while not failing to design ways and means of plucking some low-hanging ‘fruits’ along the way,” he said.