Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Africa will produce next UNWTO Secretary-General – Lai

Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture, has expressed optimism that Africa will take the job of Secretary General of United Nation World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) in January 2018.

The minister said this on Tuesday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in an interview with newsmen at the 59th Meeting of UNWTO Commission for Africa.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports Mohammed is leading Nigeria’s delegation to the four-day conference of Africa Ministers of Tourism, the highest UN advisory body on tourism globally.

“The UNWTO Secretary General, Mr Taleb Rifai, a Jordanian will be leaving after a very successful two terms and we all believe that it is the turn of Africa to occupy this post.

“Of course, intensive lobbying has been going on, but the most important thing for us is to ensure that we use all available opportunity to ensure we produce the next Secretary General.

“There are candidates from Africa, Europe and Brazil but for us who are ministers from Africa, we want to ensure that an African emerged as the next Secretary General of UNWTO,’’ he said.

Mohammed said that Nigeria would use the ongoing meeting with the theme: “2017 as Year of Sustainable Tourism’’, to leverage on the achievements recorded so far on tourism sector.

He recalled that the 58th Edition held in Cote d’Ívoire last year was used to re-launch the country back to the UNWTO fold and it had yielded fruits.

“After the meeting in Abidjan last year, Nigeria was invited to the headquarters of UNWTO in Madrid, Spain where a session was dedicated exclusively to address Nigeria’s challenges on tourism.

“It is as a result of the meeting that UNWTO sent experts to Nigeria to review our Tourism Development Plan.

“We hosted them for five days in December last year, and during the meetings, the experts met with cross section of all the major stakeholders in the industry.

“We are already implementing recommendations from the engagements and they are yielding results,’’ he said.

The minister said that the second leg of the meeting –a High Level Meeting on Chinese Outbound Tourism in Africa will strengthen cultural relation between China and African countries with Nigeria in particular.

He said that the meeting would review the proposal by China to Africa on facilitating cultural exchange and visit of Africans to China.