Nigerian Tourism Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed:
Let me formally welcome the Secretary-General of the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Mr. Zurab Pololikashvili, to Nigeria. Your Excellency, we are delighted to have you here in Nigeria, where you will be attending your first UNWTO-CAF Meeting since assumption of
office in January 2018. The Secretary-General flew into Abuja a few hours ago, and it is a measure of his passion and commitment to the development of global tourism that he is here with us this afternoon
2. May I also welcome you, gentlemen of the press, to this press conference, which we have called to herald the 61st Meeting of the UNWTO-CAF, which is due to start off tomorrow, Monday, June 4th 2018, and run through Wednesday, 6th of June 2018. In particular, I welcome
members of the Association of Nigerian Journalists and Writers of Tourism (ANJET), who have joined us from Lagos for the meeting.
3. We are all set to host the best UNWTO-CAF Meeting ever! All the necessary preparations have been made to ensure this. The main committee, as well as the many sub-committees, have worked tirelessly to make this event a huge success. We also expect an impressive attendance. As at today, we have confirmation from 166 foreign
delegates, 26 Ministers and 332 Nigerian delegates, excluding the gentlemen of the press. Several delegates have arrived and many more are expected in today.
4. As you must be aware by now, the theme of the meeting is “Tourism Statistics: A Catalyst for Development”. That theme fits very well into our quest to improve on our tourism statistics for planning purposes and the ultimate development of our tourism.
5. According to the programme of the meeting, we will host a welcome cocktail for the delegates this Sunday evening. On Monday, we will have a grand opening ceremony, to be performed by President Muhammadu
Buhari, after which we will have the Ministers’ meeting. Tuesday will feature the Technical Seminar and the meeting will be wrapped up on Wednesday by the Technical Visit, which will take the delegates to the
breathtaking Eko Atlantic City in Lagos. We decided to save the best for last.
6. Gentlemen of the press, it is common knowledge that culture drives tourism. We will, therefore, use the occasion of this meeting to showcase the rich and diverse culture of Nigeria. Some spectacular cultural events have thus been lined up for the meeting. At this evening’s cocktail, delegates will be treated to the Seki Dance Drama
from the South-South, a spectacular and colourful show like no other.
On Monday and Tuesday, the command performances of the globally-acclaimed ‘Fela and the Kalakuta Queens’ and Ondo and Sights of Nigeria by Bolanle Austen-Peters will take the centre stage. Words are not enough to describe these shows.
7. Then of course we have other shows like the Drum Assembly, the Ekemini Dance group from Akwa Ibom, the Benue State Cultural Troupe, and the Ebonyi State Cultural Troupe. It promises to be a panoply of events.
8. Please permit me to most sincerely thank President Muhammadu Buhari for his invaluable support, without which this event would not have been possible. Thanks to the successes recorded by this Administration in fighting insecurity, we are holding this global meeting here. Four years ago, hosting this event in Abuja would have been a pipe dream, considering the level of insecurity. Remember that Boko Haram carried out many deadly attacks in this capital city. That is now history. Nigeria is safe and secure for its citizens and for foreign tourists and investors. Whatever pockets of criminal acts that exist are being addressed squarely.
9. Let me end by commending the media for their support and cooperation. The series of promotional visits we lined up in the runup to this meeting have received a massive play in the media, and for this we are grateful.
10. Thank you for your kind attention. I will now take your questions.