Minister Hypes Nigeria as Hub for Global Events –

Information and Culture Minister Alhaji Lai Mohammed said the organization of two international events in quick succession by the Nigerian government is a testament to the growing preparedness, safety and security of Nigerian cities to host world events.

The Minister said this on Tuesday at the opening of the UNWTO World Conference on the Linkages between Tourism, Culture and Creative Industries, on the theme “Pathways to recovery and inclusive development”, which will is held at the newly refurbished National Theater in Lagos.

“Hosting this conference is a strong affirmation of Nigeria’s position as a trusted business hub and a safe haven for capital, talent and intellectual property.

“Ahead of the conference, Nigeria hosted the UNESCO Media and Information Literacy Week 2022 in Abuja, from 24-28 October 2022. Through the gradual scaling up of our MICE events (with MICE here for Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions), we intend to build public confidence and increase our operational readiness to host international events,” he said.

Alhaji Mohammed said that the purpose of the UNWTO conference is to accelerate the goal of transforming the tourism sector into a privileged sector and the creative industry into a creative economy in the context of the government’s intention to support and facilitate an enabling environment for the genuine commercial growth of tourism and the creative industry.

“This conference is very significant in the history of UNWTO and Nigeria, as it is the first time ever that the organization, in a single forum, brings together the three interrelated sectors.
tourism, culture and creative industries to highlight their fundamental importance as effective tools for inclusive development and engines of sustainable growth,” he said.

The Minister said for Nigeria that the conference, which attracted participants from many UNWTO Member States, industry players, international organizations, academia and the media, among others, provides an ideal opportunity to showcase the country’s rich, diverse and unprecedented tourism and creative assets, to network, learn new things and share knowledge.

He added that one of the main objectives of the conference is to highlight sustainable solutions and innovative policies for the development and exploitation of the symbiotic potentials of tourism, culture and the creative industry.

Alhaji Mohammed said that more than ever, tourism and the creative industry, due to their economic viability, are in the global spotlight and have their place at the forefront of the national and international development agenda.

“According to a recent IMF report, Nigeria’s entertainment and creative industry, which over the past decade has seen massive growth and international recognition, accounts for 1.45% of Nigeria’s GDP. In 2021, the number of annual film productions stood at 2,500 with a projection of US$22 million.

“Music revenue is estimated at US$73 million (with an annual growth rate of 13.4%). In the same vein, fashion contributes more than 6.1% to the global gross domestic product (GDP), representing on average between 2% and 7% of the national GDP in the world. These sectors contribute to the growth, resilience and economic recovery of societies and the well-being of individuals,” he said.

The Minister said that the UNWTO Conference also provides an excellent opportunity to discuss ways and means to promote intra-African travel and tourism, taking advantage of the continent’s vast and unique resources and numbers, for an exchange mutual
benefit all Member States.

He said the Nigerian government had long identified the creative industry, tourism and culture as key sectors in diversifying the national economy away from oil, describing the three sectors as not only the new oil, but also the new gold!

“This awareness explains why we have paid a lot of attention to the sectors. We have given a lot of visibility to our cultural sector, and one of the spin-offs of this is our successful campaign to repatriate our coveted objects, which have been looted and taken to different parts of the world. Hundreds of these timeless works of art are currently
be repatriated to Nigeria, in reflection of our successful campaign,” said Alhaji Mohammed.

According to him, the Nigerian government has put the creative industry at the forefront of
the economy, highlighting the contributions of music, cinema, fashion, gastronomy, etc. to the national economy. Of course, the culture and
creative industries are drivers of tourism.

“We have breathed life into the center of our arts and entertainment, the National Theatre,
which has been revamped for more than 40 years, thanks to collaboration between the federal government and the private sector,
specifically the Bankers’ Committee, which injected $100 million into the renovation efforts. The result is what you see today – an iconic building regaining its lost glory. And this is only the first phase. When completed, there will be four new hubs for music, film, fashion and IT – and a new era for cultural tourism, arts and entertainment,” the minister said.

The conference, which was declared open by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, is attended by UNWTO Secretary General, Mr. Zurab Pololikashvili; Siandou Fofana, Minister of Leisure and Tourism, Côte d’Ivoire; Mr. Hamat Bah, Minister of Tourism, Gambia; Mrs. Memunatu Pratt, Minister of Tourism, Sierra Leone and Julien Paluku Kahongya, Minister of Industry, Democratic Republic of Congo.

Other conference delegates include: Catherine Katungu Furaha, Minister of Culture, Democratic Republic of Congo; Modero Nsimba Matondo, Minister of Tourism, Democratic Republic of Congo; Kossi Gbenyo, Minister of Culture and Tourism, Republic of Togo and Mrs Heather Sibungo, Deputy Minister of Tourism of Namibia; Mr. Babalola Jean-Michel Hervé Abimbola, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Arts of Benin

Jennifer C. Burleigh