Nigeria canvasses intra-Africa tourism at UN Conference

By Rotimi Ijikanmic

The Federal Government has called on African leaders to take measures at promoting intra-African tourism to reverse the present high tendency of tourists from the continent traveling to Asia, Europe and America.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai made the call on Wednesday in Arusha, Tanzania at the opening of the 65th meeting of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)’ Regional Commission for Africa.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports the meeting being attended by no fewer than 40 African Ministers of Tourism has the theme “Rebuilding Africa’s Tourism Resilience For Inclusive Socio-Economic Development”.

The minister noted that intra-African tourism would popularize and enhance the attractiveness of Africa’s enormous but under-utilized tourism resources.

He identified the resources to include, beautiful white beaches, diverse flora and fauna, world class national parks, historical sites and monuments, music, films, stage plays, gastronomy and fashion and many more

“Tourism can be a gold mine in Africa if we all fully explore its potentials ie business tourism, destination tourism, medical tourism, religious tourism, entertainment tourism, gastronomy tourism etc.

“I believe that we, as member states working together, can help in three key ways, namely: green and innovative investments, investing to ensure that no region is left behind,” he said.

Mohammed also underscored the need for African countries to, collectively and individually, address the challenges relating to poor connectivity, unfavourable visa regimes, insecurity and high cost of air transport.

He added that challenges of low quality of tourism support services including hotels, buses and professional skills should be addressed.

Mohammed congratulated the UNWTO Secretary-General, Mr Zurab Pololikashvili for the great milestone achieved in the organisation.

He also welcomed the report of the Secretary General focusing on sustainability based on the programs and activities of the organisation.

The Minister appreciated UNWTO for recently, awarding 100 Tourism Online Academy Scholarships to Nigerians willing to undertake basic training in sightseeing.

He said Nigeria’s membership of UNWTO spans five decades adding that since joining the Organization the country has been consistent in its commitment to its activities.

Speaking in the same veins, Pololikashvili sad the continent must work together and encourage free trade and cooperation.

He assured that the UNWTO will work with the continent for the revitalization of tourism sector. (NAN).

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