Monday, July 29, 2013

New tourism brand represents Nigerian best- Jonathan

BY JIMOH BABATUNDE

As Nigeria prepares to join         leading countries of the world  that have been able to attract  tourists with a strong brand identity, President Goodluck  Jonathan said the that the choice of ‘Fascinating Nigeria’ as the nation’s tourism brand identity was far-reaching as it represented the nation warmth, nature and rhythm.
President Jonathan said Nigeria has a lot to showcase to the world, adding that the new tourism identity “is a testament to the richness of our land, embodying culture, growth and diversity.”
Speaking at  the launch of  a new “tourism identity” for the country  as part of efforts to develop the tourism sector and diversify the nation’s revenue sources, Jonathan said the tourism sector, if properly harnessed, would generate income and attract investment to drive the country’s economy.
Unveiling the new identity, Fascinating Nigeria, on behalf of the President at a dinner held at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, the Vice President,Arc.     Namadi Sambo, disclosed that tourism contributed three per cent to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product in 2012 and 2.8 per cent of total employment.
 ”With this encouraging contribution and the vibrancy of the sector, Nigeria is indeed emerging as one of Africa’s leading destinations investing in the hospitality industry,” the President noted while reiterating government’s determination to transforming the sector for the benefit of Nigerians.
The President said he has “directed the Ministry of Trade and Investment to work with the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation in developing sector specific mechanisms that will stimulate and sustain investment in this very important and fascinating sector.”
He added that government would collaborate with the private sector in upgrading tourist attractions across the country and allayed fears in some quarters that the initiative would be sponsored by government. “I have directed the Ministry of Finance to come up with creative funding options for the sector, not through the budget but through Private Public Partnership.”
President Jonathan added that government has identified 100 heritage sites in the country for restoration, activation and promotion.
“Today’s launch is commendable and aligns fully with our focus and plan to transform this sector and join the league of countries that draw significant revenue from this important and multifaceted industry [tourism],” the President concluded.
The Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Edem Duke, expressed delight that “for the very first time in the history of our country, a tourism brand which will properly position our country in the global tourism stage is being launched.”
Quoting the Right Reverend Jesse Jackson who noted recently that it was time Nigeria stopped being seen through a keyhole but through a wide, open door, Duke said “Tonight is that night when we open that door into the nation’s unbelievable possibilities and aggregate the talents that dwell in this country in the interest of Nigeria’s image.”
He added that, “It is also important for us to say it loud and clear that culture, enterprise and tourism is one of the biggest economic sectors in the world and it behoves us as Nigerians to open a new and a glorious page for culture and tourism in this country.
“ If Nigeria desires to be one of the top 20 economies by 2020, we must do what the top 20 economies are doing; they have invested in tourism and are using culture as major collateral. This is a country of 167 million creative minds. This is a country that has been defined by the rest of the world as accommodating the world’s happiest people. This is a sector that accommodates every professional calling; there is versatility, creativity and enormous possibilities in the sector.”
 The Governor of  Cross River state, Senator Liyel Imoke whose state  has invested heavily in making Nigeria a fascinating country,  expressed happiness that there is nowhere in the world where Nigerians are not known. “This is a new beginning for Nigerian tourism and the brand Nigeria,” Imoke said.
Before the speeches, the night had been spiced with the best of Nigerian art, craft, music, dance, fashion and  entertainment.
 Guests that included politicians, tourism stakeholders  and civil servants were treated to delightful rendition of  the  National Anthem by singer Nikki Laoye as well as other singers like king Sunny Ade, Omawumi, Inyanya and Tu face Idibia.