Thursday, August 11, 2016

Project the best of Nigeria to attract tourists- Lai Muhammed



The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has appealed to the media to project a positive image of Nigeria instead of echoing the misinformation about widespread insecurity in the country.

Receiving members of the Association of Tourism Practitioners of Nigeria, who paid him a courtesy call in his office in Abuja on Thursday, the Minister urged the media to be wary of spreading  the misinformation that 20 out of the 36 states in Nigeria are not safe, saying every Nigerian state is safe for investment and tourism.

''If they want to tell their people not to come to Nigeria, we do not need to help them to spread the news,'' he said. ''You do not need to spread news about Nigeria that will hurt investment and tourism.''

Alhaji Mohammed enjoined members of the Association to complement the efforts of the government in promoting the good image of the country, saying perception management and aggressive marketing are key to the promotion of tourism in Nigeria.

"I will mention an area which is dire to tourism and development. That is the area of marketing tourism. We do not market tourism enough in this country. Tourism is driven by perception more than by reality. What do I mean? Today, countries that are less endowed and peaceful than Nigeria...go on CNN and Aljazeera to advertise their countries as the countries of peace and stability. We must change the perception and invest in perception management,'' he said.

The Minister said the ministry is working to change the general perception about tourism as a mere leisure instead of as a business, because of its huge potential in the diversification of the economy, hence the renewed drive to partner with the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) to rejig the nation's tourism architecture.

Alhaji Mohammed told the Association that he had made recommendation for the resuscitation of the Presidential Council on Tourism (PCT) involving all stakeholders across ministries, departments and agencies with a view to fashioning out a holistic approach towards the development of tourism in the country.

He urged leaders to do more to promote domestic tourism in Nigeria by spending their vacation in the country, as leaders in other climes do.

In his address, the National President of the Association, Kabir Mallam, hailed the Minister for his uncommon commitment to repositioning tourism in Nigeria.

"Permit me sir to appreciate you for the three significant outings since assumption of office: Tourism and Culture Summit held at Transcorp Hilton Hotel on the 28th and 29th April, 2016; Your appearance before the House of Representatives on May 3rd 2016 and most recent visit to the UNWTO this month," he said.

He called for a review of the Tourism Master plan to conform to current realities, saying the Association has set up a committee to complement government in that regard.

Mallam called for the enactment of a law to regulate tourism practice in Nigeria to guard against the unscrupulous activities of quacks in the sector.