Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has called on investors in the tourism sector to invest in the country.
This was even as the President urged tourists and investors in the tourism sector to consider Nigeria as their second home.
President Buhari made the call, in Abuja, during the 61st meeting of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation Regional Commission for Africa (UNWTO-CAF) with the theme ‘Tourism Statistics: A Catalyst for Development.’
President Buhari, who was represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha, said the importance of tourism and its potentials to national economies cannot be over-emphasised.
The president noted that tourism contributes to the wealth of nations and the well-being of citizens, largely through foreign exchange earnings, generation of revenue, creation of employment, knowledge, cultural integration, as well as increase the gross domestic product of the country.
He said Nigeria is making steady efforts to diversify the economy through agriculture, solid minerals development and tourism.
The president told the audience that Nigeria, a country with a population of over 180 million people and over 250 ethnic groups, each ethnic group has a unique story, saying that the stories are finding expression in movies, music and many other creative ideas.
“Our music and movies, in particular, have taken the world by storm and, for the creative young talents in our dear country, Nigeria, the best is yet to come.
“It is on this basis that I call on tourists and investors in the tourism sector to consider Nigeria as their second home.
“This government has attractive investment incentives for investors in the tourism sector including but not limited to: Pioneer status to all major tourism projects; Minimum tariff on imported tourism equipment, amusement park equipment and materials for hotel construction and furnishing, dedicated transportation for tour operators and equipment for restaurants not manufactured in Nigeria; Minimum duty on Casino equipment; Work permit for foreign workers with specialized skills within the industry; and land at concessionary rate by state governments to tourism investors,” President Buhari said.
The president further said government is also deepening the legislative and institutional capacities for the protection of intellectual property rights in Nigeria.
This, President Buhari added, would give all investors the assurance of security of their rights especially in the creative industry.
Speaking earlier, President Buhari said his administration had injected about $9 billion to strengthen its investment in power, roads and railway in the past two years.
He further said his government was investing in Social Investment Programme (SIP) to promote human capital development which has benefitted over nine million people.
“These programmes include our Home-Grown School Feeding Programme that is providing one meal a day to 7.4 million pupils in 22 states of the Federation; N-Power programme that has employed 200,000 university graduates and is about to employ 300,000 more; the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) under which some 297,973 poor homes are receiving 5,000 Naira monthly; and the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP) that has provided loans to hundreds of thousands of small business owners.
“The Government is committed to providing public safety and security to all Nigerians, investors and tourists. Government is also investing a lot of resources into building the inventory of equipment and capacity of security agencies to keep the country safe,” Buhari added.
In his remarks, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the theme of the event was apt and timely as Nigeria is witnessing giant strides in the development of viable and sustainable alternatives to oil and gas.
Mohammed added that with its abundant natural resources, vibrant culture, interesting history, predominance of tourists products, large population and the hospitable disposition of her people, Nigeria is currently recognized as one of Africa’s leading economies and emerging market by the World Bank.
“Tourism has become an important sector of the economy for many member states, especially as an important source of foreign exchange earnings, employment generation and income creation, in addition to encouraging infrastructural development and poverty reduction.
“For us in Nigeria, it is one of the sectors we have identified as very key to our economic diversification agenda. The sustained growth of the tourism industry illustrates how this all-important sector, with its added advantage of infinitude, can assist member states’ economies to reap the benefits of globalization,” Mohammed said.
Also speaking, the Secretary-General of the UNWTO-CAF, Mr. Zurab Pololikashvili, said member states needed the political will to achieve the goals of the global tourist community.
Pololikashvili added that the African continent needed to use tourism to create more and more jobs for Africans.
Pololikashvili also said with enough political and financial support, the continent can deliver on the huge potentials.