The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has set out to use tourism as a tool in developing the North-East region of Nigeria devastated by Boko Haram insurgent and other parts of the country.
During a meeting in Madrid, Spain, with the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, on Tuesday July 26, the Secretary-General of the world tourism, Mr. Taleb Rifai disclosed that the organisation proposed Maiduguri, Borno, for the hosting of its international conference on “Tourism as Tool for Peace and Reconciliation.”
Speaking on boosting tourism in planned parts of Nigeria at the meeting which is expected to last for two days in Madrid, Rifai said,
“There is the existence of political will and we can feel it from outside (the country).
“Anyone who is interested in Nigeria will know the positive development that has taken place in Nigeria and there’s the need to tell this story to the world.”
Rifai noted that the proposed conference would be a convergence of critical stakeholders in the tourism sector, particularly, from Africa, to fashion out ways to use tourism to develop the North-East region, devastated by Boko Haram insurgency.
He added that the conference fashioned alongside that held in Tanzania, would help to rebuild the image of Nigeria and attract investors in the tourism sector, as well as build on the success recorded by the Federal Government on the war against terrorism.
“Nigeria is absolutely very important to us. The success of Nigeria is positive for the (African) continent and the world.”
The UNWTO, he said, will assist Nigeria in the review of its tourism master plan to make it adaptable to the current trend.
Speaking further, the Minister of Information, said the master plan was designed in 2006 with the assistance of the UNWTO, but had not been implemented by past administrations.
The master plan identified five tourism clusters for development and they include: the Conference Capital (FCT, Nasarawa, etc); Sahara Gateway (old Kano city wall, drying pit, etc) ; Scenic Nature (Museum and traditional architecture); Atlantic Gateway (Olokola Resort); and Tropical Rainforest (Obudu ranch resort).
Alhaji Mohammed welcomed the offer by the world tourism body and urged them to support Nigeria’s tourism development through the provision of technical assistance, especially in the area of data gathering and processing, as well as capacity building.
He stressed that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has identified tourism as one of sectors for diversification of Nigeria’s economy.
Briefing Rifai and his team on the efforts made so far by the administration Mohammed said:
“In particular, we are planning capacity building centre for women in tourism in each of the country’s six geo-political zones, because when you empower women, you empower the society.”
He pointed out that Boko Haram had been decapitated and government was concentrating on rebuilding and resettlement in Borno State.