* Commences visa on arrival policy

Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja

The federal government has announced the reduction in tariffs and import duty on casino machine and amusement park equipment not manufactured in the country to shore up investment in the tourism sector.

President Muhammadu Buhari made this concession Monday while declaring open the 61st United Nations World Tourism Organisation Commission for Africa (UNWTO-CAF) meeting in Abuja.

Buhari also underscored government’s readiness to grant incentives, including pioneer status to all major tourism projects.
The president was represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation Boss Mustapha.

He listed some of the items to earn minimum tariffs to include, materials for hotel construction and furnishing, dedicated transportation for tour operators, equipment for restaurants not manufactured in Nigeria, amusement park equipment and minimum duty on casino equipment.

He called on the investors in the tourism sector to consider Nigeria as their second home as government is committed to providing security to all Nigerians, investors and tourists.

“The importance of tourism and its potentials to national economies cannot be overemphasised. Tourism, as we all know, contributes to the wealth of nations and the well-being of citizens, largely through foreign exchange earnings, generation of revenue, creation of employment, knowledge, cultural integration as well as increase the GDP of the country,” Buhari said.

He also stressed that work permit will be given to foreign workers with specialised skills within the tourism industry while state governments will also approve land at concessionary rate to tourism investors.

The president added that government is also deepening the legislative and institutional capacities for the protection of intellectual property rights in Nigeria, saying such will give all investors the assurance of security of their rights especially in the creative industry.
He commended the leadership of the UNWTO, CAF and tourism ministers from all over Africa for considering Nigeria worthy of hosting the event this year.

Tourism ministers from 51 African countries and several delegates are meeting in Abuja to deliberate on the theme: “Tourism Statistics – A Catalyst for Development”.

Also, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the meeting was an impetus to discuss ways and means to promote intra-Africa travels and tourism.

The minister further disclosed that the federal government used the UNWTO-CAF meeting to test its Visa On Arrival policy, which is part of the efforts to boost tourism in the country.
Mohammed said many of the delegates to the meeting were issued their visas on arrival by the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS).

The federal government had introduced the issuance of visa on arrival for business travellers last year to enable ease of doing business in the country.