The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed has said Nigeria is set to host the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Regional Conference in 2022.
According to News Agency of Nigeria, the minister also said the entertainment industry in Nigeria is a major factor for the country to be recognised globally as he basked in the recent famous Grammy awards of Nigerians singers, Damini Ebunoluwa Ogulu, famously known as Burna Boy and Ayodeji Balogun, aka Wizkid.
The minister disclosed this in Sal Island, Cape Verde, after a meeting with the secretary-general of the UNWTO, Zurab Pololikashvili.
Mohammed also admitted that foreigners visit Nigeria more for business than tourism, while taking pride in the creative industry mostly occupied by Nigerian youths whom his principal, President Muhammadu Buhari had once called lazy youths for ‘doing nothing.’
Recall that Buhari on Wednesday, April 18, 2018, said Nigerian youths were lazy despite their resilient efforts amid scarce resources to make a living.
“More than 60 per cent of the population is below 30, a lot of them haven’t been to school and they are claiming that Nigeria is an oil producing country, therefore, they should sit and do nothing, and get housing, healthcare, education free,” Buhari said at a panel appearance with world leaders at the Commonwealth Business Forum in London in 2018.
However, his minister, Mohammed pointed out that the Nigerian government selected the tourism and creative industry because of Nigeria’s comparative advantage and strong points in films, music, and fashion
“Comparatively, Nigeria is not very strong in destination tourism though the country attracts many travellers who are more on businesses,” Mohammed said.
Similarly, stakeholders in the entertainment industry have lamented lack of support for them by the government, saying it is all talk and no action.
In 2016, Mohammed inaugurated a 28-member committee to review the proposed bill for the establishment of the moribund Motion Picture Practitioners Council (MOPICON) before presenting it as an executive bill to the National Assembly for passage into law.
A policy document of the President Buhari’s government on the entertainment sector, which he released during the build-up to his first election in 2015, promised to assist Nollywood develop into a world-class movie industry to compete favouranly with Hollywood and Bollywood.
“I will also support the creative and performing arts with the necessary environment whereby our great entertainers do not end their lives in abject poverty as is currently the case,” the document states.
However, over six into the Buhari administration, the promises have not been fulfilled.
After meeting the UNWTO secretary-general, Mr Mohammed said the regional conference would focus on tourism and the creative industry.
“Nigeria is better known for its music, films and culture; and Nigeria music and films are exported for foreign exchange.
“There are many Nigerian artistes that have gained global recognition, among whom are Burna Boy and Whiz Kid, who won the latest Grammy awards in different categories,” Mohammed explained.
The UNWTO, founded on November 1, 1975, is the UN specialised agency for promoting responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism.
Mohammed is in Sal Island, with other African culture and tourism ministers, to attend the 64th conference of the UNWTO Commission for Africa and the second edition of the UNWTO Global Tourism Investment Forum.
The minister also noted that Burna Boy, a Nigerian entertainment superstar, recently sold out at the 02 Arena in London. Burna Boy was reported to have “shut down 02 Arena with incredible 12,000 tickets sale for his concert held on August 27.”
The 61st edition of the ongoing UNWTO Commission for Africa conference was held in Nigeria in 2018.