President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday revealed plans by his administration to maximize the potentials in Tourism and Culture, which had been neglected in the past, to ameliorate the dwindling economy of the country.
Buhari, who disclosed this while declaring open the 2016 National Summit on Culture and Tourism in Abuja, described Tourism as rejected stone that would soon be made the bedrock of Nigeria’s economy.
Represented by the Minister of Trade, Industry and Investment, Dr Okechukwu Enelama, the President assured that his government will provide conducive environment that would encourage investment in Culture and Tourism, although he noted that the sector is driven by private sector all over the world
His words, “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.
“Consequently, the road for us as a nation to achieve our set objectives of diversifying our economic base will depend partly upon the quality of design and implementation of tourism policies; we must develop appropriate policies and the right attitudes towards achieving the desired goals.
“We are aware that the development of the tourism sector all over the world is largely Private-Sector-driven. However as evident in the 2016 Budget, this administration will continue to 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.
“We will continue to encourage public and private sector participation and partnership in all the desired areas including Transportation, Beach and Resort development as well as Tour operations, Hotel and Hospitality development.
“As you are aware, culture generally represents the totality of the history and way of life of a people. Over the years, Nigeria is recognised to have a rich cultural heritage – not just in our arts and crafts but also in our ways of life. However, over time, as a result of so many experiences we seem to have lost the tenets of our cultural values; which are of integrity, honesty, sincerity and God-consciousness.”
Speaking in the light of the President’s remarks, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed challenged rural dwellers in the country, who were blessed with rich cultural heritages and tourist sites, to live up to the responsibility of managing and protecting the sites for economic purposes.
The Minister identified rural dweller as the only challenge militating against tourism development in the country, regretting that “The challenge is to get the rural folks as tourists’ guides, festival managers and protectors of the sites.”
He explained that the Summit was designed to explore all the various opportunities in tourism sector to improve the economy, calling on corporate bodies to join hands with the government.
Noting that the crash in the price of oil, which is the mainstay of our economy, has greatly affected the economy, Mohammed declared that the Buhari administration “has decided to turn that disaster to a blessing by diversifying the mono-product economy and widening our national revenue base.
“We want to turn adversity into sustainable fortune by tapping our National cultural heritage and tourism.”
The Minister, who stated that his ministry had been working in the past six months quietly to see how best Nigeria repositions culture and tourism, said: “the important of the tourism sector cannot be quantify because it’s the only sector that are pro-poor, pro-rural and pro-underpriviledge.
“The sectors are not just about creating jobs or earning revenues, they also help stem rural-urban migration, foster unity, ensure holistic and inclusive growth as well reduce crime,” he added.