Nigeria To Leverage Tourism For Rural Development – Minister

Yemisi Izuora

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has said

Nigeria will leverage tourism in its efforts to take development to

the grassroots.

The Minister stated this in a statement issued in Lagos on Sunday to

mark the 2020 World Tourism Day, which has the theme: ”Tourism and

Rural Development”.

He said the theme, in the words of the United Nations World Tourism

Organization (UNWTO), celebrates tourism’s unique ability to drive

economic development and provide opportunities outside of big cities,

including in those communities that would otherwise be left behind.

”Tourism plays an important role in preserving and promoting culture

and heritage all around the world. This is why we are leveraging on

the sector to take development to the grassroots by ensuring that

local communities own and benefit from the cultural heritage and the

tourist attractions in their domain,” Alhaji Mohammed said.

He said the plan by the Federal Government to establish community

museums is part of efforts to ensure that local communities benefit

from tourism, thus ensuring that the sector contributes to rural

development.

The Minister said the occasion of the 2020 World Tourism Day presents

the opportunity for stakeholders to reflect on the impact of the

Covid-19 global pandemic, which has hit the sector hard and also

stepped down the national celebration of the day.

He said despite the negative impact of Covid-19 on the sector, it was

a mark of its resilience that governments around the world still look

to the sector to drive recovery as a leading employer and economic

pillar in cities and the rural communities.

”It is globally recognized that tourism empowers rural communities

and provides employment mostly for women and youth. It plays an

important role in diversifying the rural economy and its growth,

thereby contributing to the sustainability of the population and the

economy of the areas.

”Tourism therefore helps rural communities make the transition from

agrarian to diversified and sustainable economies,” Alhaji Mohammed

said.

He said rural tourism perfectly suits the trend of most modern

travellers seeking authentic and unique experiences, local lifestyles

and the need to experience natural and unspoiled landscapes.

”Rurality is the central and unique selling point in the rural

tourism package, and apart from being located in rural areas, small in

scale, traditional in character and slowly growing and controlled by

the local people; rural tourism is regarded as tourism in the

countryside, which embraces the rural environment. Most importantly,

rural tourism aims to include and benefit rural communities, while

preserving their environmental and cultural assets,” the Minister

said.

He said in line with the comment made by the Secretary General of the

UNWTO, that the current Covid-19 crisis is an opportunity for member

states to rethink the tourism sector and its contribution to the

people and planet, Nigeria set up a committee to look at the impact of

Covid-19 on the Creative Industry and Tourism, with a view to finding

ways to catalyze the growth of the tourism sector in particular and

the Creative Industry in general.

Alhaji Mohammed expressed the hope that all the relevant sectors will

fully integrate and promote all the recovery recommendations and

deliverables developed to support the recovery efforts.

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