…as 166 foreign delegates, 26 ministers, 332 Nigerian delegates arrive
By Ignatius Ushie
President Muhammadu Buhari has declared open the 61st meeting of the UN World Tourism Organization Commission in Abuja with no fewer than 166 foreign delegates, 26 ministers and 332 Nigerian top officials in attendance.
As a prelude for the takeoff of the global event, the Secretary General of the UNWTO, Mr. Zurab Pololikashvili, flew into Nigeria on Sunday morning and was received by Nigeria’s Information and Culture Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and they addressed a joint press conference at the Transcorp Hilton Abuja on the future and scope of global tourism industry.
Mohammed said the event was to showcase the improved tourism climate in the country arising from the administration’s effort to stem the tide of insecurity it met on the ground.
The minister gave further details of the event: “As you must be aware by now, the theme of the meeting is “Tourism Statistics: A Catalyst for Development”. That theme fits very well into our quest to improve on our tourism statistics for planning purposes and the ultimate development of our tourism.
“Please permit me to most sincerely thank President Muhammadu Buhari for his invaluable support, without which this event would not have been possible. Thanks to the successes recorded by this administration in fighting insecurity, we are holding this global meeting here.
“Four years ago, hosting this event in Abuja would have been a pipe dream, considering the level of insecurity. Remember that Boko Haram carried out many deadly attacks in this capital city. That is now history.
“Nigeria is safe and secure for its citizens and for foreign tourists and investors. Whatever pockets of criminal acts that exist are being addressed squarely. Gentlemen of the press, it is common knowledge that culture drives tourism. We will, therefore, use the occasion of this meeting to showcase the rich and diverse culture of Nigeria. Some spectacular cultural events have thus been lined up for the meeting,” he said.