In a bid to further diversify Nigeria’s economy, the Federal Government has expressed its resolve to mainstream culture, arts and tourism along with other sectors already identified as alternative sources of revenue for the country.
The Minister for Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the present administration appreciates the fact that culture drives tourism:
“As you know very much, this administration is diversifying the economy from oil, which for many years has been the main stay of our economy. This is why the Ministry is working so hard to move the sector from the margin to the mainstream of the economy.
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“We are working with local and local and international partners, Tony Elumelu Foundation and British Council, with a view to reviving the sector through capacity building for the workers who will in turn train the others across the country,” he added.
It is hoped that this approach will lead to meaningful engagement for the people, stem the rural-urban movement and create hundreds of jobs, becoming a sort of “money spinner” for the economy.
In addition, the Federal Government is working assiduously to increase tourist arrivals to the country by offering capacity building trainings for festival managers in Nigeria: “We are making a list of top 10 cultural festivals in Nigeria so that we can create a year-round calendar for such events, so that we can plan ahead for them,” Mohammed further disclosed.
One such festival is the Carnival Calabar, held annually in Cross River State. In 2015, fifteen countries from within and outside Africa reportedly participated in the colourful event, which is one of the biggest festivals in the country.
The minister pointed out that tourism is a robust multi-faceted sector that requires the cooperation and inputs from other sectors to create the required necessary infrastructure like roads, security, hotel facilities and others. To facilitate these partnerships, the government is hosting a National Summit on Culture and Tourism in Abuja, which ends tomorrow.
Mr. Andew Okungbowa of the New Telegraph Newspapers spoke at the event on behalf of Tourism Writers and challenged the minister to ensure that Nigeria is packaged and presented very well to the world. He also requested that the Presidential Committee on Tourism (PCT) and the country’s Tourism Masterplan be revisited as well as the nation’s cumbersome visa regime.
Other issues raised include the need for culture and tourism to work together, revitalization of the tourism satellite account (TSA), the need to connect with diaspora and the upgrading hospitality infrastructure in the country.