Okwe Obi, Abuja

Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, on Wednesday, attributed inaccurate statistics on arrival and receipts of tourists as reasons why the country’s tourism sector is backward.

This is even as he assured stakeholders that the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (NUWTO) had indicated interest to assist and support Nigeria’s hospitality industry in the implementation of the Tourism Master Plan, stressing government’s willingness to transform the sector for good.

Represented by the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Grace Gekpe, at the 4th Edition of the Nigeria Tourism Investors Forum and Exhibition (NTIFE), in Abuja, Mohammed explained that “the lack of accurate statistics on arrival and receipts is one of the major problems confronting the tourism sector in Nigeria.”

He stressed that, “programmes and policies to fully harness the country’s vast tourism potential over the next one and a half decades are anchored in the National Tourism Development Master Plan.  In order to ensure its full implementation, the ministry sought and secured the support of NUWTDO to assist in the implementation Tourism Master Plan.

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“This informed the organisation overwhelming endorsement for Nigeria to host the 61st meeting of the Regional Commission for Africa (CAF).

“As a follow up, UNWTO is already seeking the support of some donor agencies to assist Nigeria with funds for the execution of the project on the strengthening of the National Tourism Statistics System and development of a Tourism Satellite Account (TSA) for Nigeria,” he said.

Regardless, President of Federation of Tourism Association of Nigeria (FTAN), Saleh Rabo, suggested that major tourists’ destinations and towns should be made the rail terminals along the newly built rail infrastructure.

Rabo further appealed that “State governments should appoint a local tourism committee to advise the state government on the touristic needs of each Tourist Development Zones (TDZ).”

He believes that with the over 300 ethnic groups, Nigeria is a mini Africa; in a touristic sense which has the capacity of taking in billions of dollars without revenue accrued from the oil sector.