President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday called on tourists and investors in the tourism sector to consider Nigeria as their second home.
Buhari, represented by Mr Boss Mustapha, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), made the call at the 61 United Nations World Tourism Organisation Commission for Africa (UNWTO-CAF), conference, in Abuja.
The theme of the conference is ” Tourism Statistics: A Catalyst for Development.”
Buhari said that the theme of the meeting was apt and could not have come at a better time than now, considering the significance of Tourism Statistics and Tourism Satellite Account (TSA) in measuring the contribution of the tourism sector to the national economy.
He said that government was committed to providing public safety and security to all Nigerians, investors and tourists.
The president explained that government was investing a lot of resources into building the inventory of equipment and capacity of security agencies to keep the country safe.
According to him, this will give all investors the assurance of security of their rights, especially in the creative industry.
“This government has attractive investment incentives for investors in the tourism sector.
“The incentives are pioneer status to all major tourism projects; minimum tariff on imported tourism equipment, amusement park equipment and materials for hotel construction and furnishing and dedicated transportation for tour operators.
“Others are equipment for restaurants not manufactured in Nigeria, minimum duty on Casino equipment; work permit for foreign workers with specialised skills within the industry; and land at concessionary rate by state governments to tourism investors,” Buhari said.
He said that government would also deepen the legislative and institutional capacities for the protection of intellectual property rights in Nigeria.
He commended the leadership of the UNWTO, the Commission for Africa (CAF) and, most importantly, the Tourism Ministers from all over Africa for considering Nigeria worthy of hosting the event this year.
Buhari noted that the importance of tourism and its potentials to national economy could not be overemphasised.
He added that tourism contributes to the wealth of nations and the well-being of citizens through foreign exchange earnings, generation of revenue, creation of employment, knowledge, cultural integration as well as increase the GDP of the country.
“We are making steady efforts to diversify the economy through agriculture, solid minerals development and tourism.
“We are also investing heavily in infrastructure to promote tourism. This administration has injected about 9 billion dollars to strengthen its investment in power, roads and railway in the past two years alone.
“Also, this government is investing in Social Investment Programme (SIP) to promote human capital development, which has benefited over 9 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,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that no fewer than 26 African Tourism Ministers, 166 foreign delegates and 332 Nigerian delegates are currently attending the UN Tourism Conference.
It will be recall that Nigeria, last year, won the right to host UNWTO-CAF conference, which is the gathering of all African Ministers of Tourism, principal executives of the global tourism body and other stakeholders in the tourism sector.