Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday in Abuja argued that Nigeria was safe and secure for tourism.
Buhari who cited improved security and countryâ€™s burgeoning economy as the basis for his argument, madeÂ the claim while receiving Zurab Pololikashvili, the Secretary-General of United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) at the Presidential Villa.
In a statement, Malam Garba Shehu, the presidentâ€™s media aide, said the president recalled that four years ago, it was inconceivable to host an international tourism conference in Abuja because of security concerns.
â€˜â€˜I am pleased that the country is now sufficiently safe and secure, and the message should go out to the world for all tourists and business travellers. The first thing tourists look out for is security and I am happy we have it now.
Â â€˜â€˜Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji, Lai Mohammed has been trying to convince the world that Nigeria is safe and has great potentials for tourism and investment. I am glad that you and your team have come here to see things for yourself,â€™â€™ the president reportedly told the UN tourism chief, who is in Abuja for the 61st UNWTO Commission for Africa (CAF) conference.
According to him, the president highlighted the nexus between tourism and sustainable development, saying Nigeria would not be left behind in ensuring that communities and businesses benefit from tourism development.
The statement also said Pololikashvili commended Nigeria for successfully hosting the conference which he said brought together African Ministers of Tourism, principal executives of the global tourism body and other stakeholders in the tourism sector.Â Â It quoted the UN tourism chief as telling Buhari that Nigeria had huge potential to develop the tourism sector considering its large economy.
Â â€˜â€˜We can do it in Nigeria, we can create, convert Nigeria to the main tourist destination in Africa. There is a huge potential here. Culture, nature, food you have everything here.
â€˜â€˜You are investing in agriculture, improving seamless travel through visa-on-arrival programme, reforming the economy and doing so much on security. Nigeria is safe,â€™â€™ Pololikashvili said.
The statement also said the Information and Culture Minister, Mohammed, noted that 166 delegates including 26 tourism ministers from Africa were attending the UN tourism conference which began on Monday and will end today.