The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the Federal Government has demonstrated that it has the political will to drive sustainable tourism in the country.
Speaking at a panel of African Ministers of Tourism, who met on the sidelines of the UN Conference on Climate Change in Marrakech, Morocco, on Thursday, the Minister said, however, that for tourism to be sustainable, it must first be put on a sound footing.
“We have a rich diversity in our culture and tourism sector. We have so much that the world wants to see. We have stories that the world wants to hear.
“But the challenge for us is to leverage our huge diversity to make tourism the next oil in Nigeria,’’ he said.
Alhaji Mohammed said that as a mark of its political will, the present administration is reviving the Presidential Council on Tourism (PCT) to drive the development of tourism in the country.
Already, he said, the Steering Committee of the PCT has met to prepare the agenda for the PCT, which is expected to meet very soon and be presided over by the President.
The Minister also said that since tourism cannot thrive without security, transparency and good infrastructure, the government is investing in massive infrastructural development (roads, rail, power, etc, adding: “Security has improved drastically, especially in the North-east where Boko Haram has been decimated.
“The government also puts a lot of premium on transparency, which is required for boosting investor confidence and encouraging tourism. The fight against corruption has been ratcheted up, and no one is deemed to be a sacred cow as far as the fight against corruption is concerned.
“With all modesty, the present administration in my country has been working hard to move tourism from the margins to the mainstream, especially because tourism has been identified as one of the sectors upon which the government’s economic diversification is anchored. Tourism has now been brought to the front burner,’’ Alhaji Mohammed said.