By Emeka Anokwuru
Nigeria has won the right to host in 2018, the 61st meeting of African ministers in charge of tourism, tagged the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Commission for Africa (CAF), in Abuja.
Nigeria won the hosting rights by acclamation following the presentation of a five-minute video, titled “Simply Nigeria’,’ to delegates at the just-concluded 59th edition of the UNWTO CAF meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.
The video, which highlighed Nigeria’s rich cultural heritage and tourism destinations, was followed by prolonged applause.
Chairman of the UNWTO Commission for Africa, Zimbabwean Minister of Tourism and Hospitality, Dr. Walter Nzembi, said: “Procedurally, when a member state offers its destination to host the next CAF, we all put that request to a test, do I take the applause of the minister’s presentation to mean your approval of Nigeria as next destination call?’’
The question was greeted by more resounding applause, confirming Nigeria as the host of the 2018 meeting. Making a case for Nigeria’s bid, which was launched at the 58th edition of the UNWTO CAF Meeting in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, in 2015, the Minister said it was an opportunity for the country of almost 200 million people to “showcase our rich cultural heritage and to promote Nigeria as a leisure and business destination’.’
He described Nigeria as a “fascinating country,’’ which hosted the UNWTO CAF meeting in 2003, 2008 and 2012, in addition to hosting the Second World Festival of Black and African Arts and Culture in 1977.
Mohammed said Nigeria was a country of peaceful and hospitable people, and that the 2018 UNWTO CAF meeting would be a practical demonstration of the government’s commitment to developing the tourism sector as an alternative source of revenue.
Earlier in the day, he told the delegates that the Nigerian government had defeated the Boko Haram terror group, noting that occasional attacks on soft targets by the insurgents who are now on the run do not amount to a resurgence of the group.