The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has reaffirmed the Federal Government’s commitment to consolidate on the tourism promotion efforts made in his last tenure in office to reposition the tourism and culture industry for the next four years.
The Minister who was in Lagos on Sunday, October 6, 2019, disclosed to the sector’s journalists that the tourism and culture industry was not neglected, but rather a whole range of work has been done with different degree of achievement recorded in the last four years.
According to Mohammed, “Today, I want to review what we did in the sector in the past four years and also set an agenda for the next four years. Looking back these past four years, there is a misconception in certain circles that we paid more attention to the Information sector than we did to Culture and Tourism.
“This may appear so because the issues we usually deal with in the Information sector are those that receive the bigger play in the media. But I can tell you, with evidence, that we achieved a lot in the tourism and culture sector or in the creative industry generally.
“Within six months of assuming office (in November 2015), we decided to invite all stakeholders to a meeting, tagged the National Summit on Culture and Tourism, in April 2016 in Abuja, with a view to charting a new path for the nation’s Creative Industry. At the end of the summit, we set up an implementation committee to carry out the recommendations of the summit.
“The review of our Tourism Masterplan; resuscitation of the Presidential Council on Tourism (PCT) and the setting up a task force on the Creative Industry are some of the outcomes of the summit.
Highlighting the new set of plans to promote the culture and tourism sector for the next four years, Lai Mohammed said “We plan to set the necessary legal framework for the sector to launch the National Policy on Culture and Tourism.
“We are also Finalising work on the Motion Picture Council of Nigeria (MOPICON) Bill and submit it to the Federal Executive Council (FEC).The plan is to create a proper regulatory environment for the sub-sector that has put Nigeria’s name on the global map, thus attracting the much-needed investment to the sector.
He added “We are establishing the Endowment Fund for the Arts to create a legal framework for the financing of the sector as well as making the National Summit for Culture and Tourism, which we first held in April 2016, a yearly affair, starting from the first quarter of 2020.
He promised to ensure a regular meeting of the Presidential Council on Tourism (PCT) to catalyse the growth of tourism, adding “We plan at least three meetings a year as well as kick-start the implementation of the parts of the Tourism Masterplan that constitute low-hanging fruits.
To complete work on the establishment of Tourism Statistics and Tourism Satellite Account (TSA), the Minister said they are working and have already signed an agreement with the UNWTO in this regard.
“We are going to introduce a unified national celebration of World Tourism Day, instead of the current situation in which we have multiple celebrations.
“We will hold a National Council on Culture and Tourism in May next year, and then hold it yearly thereafter as well as organise a regional summit on culture and tourism, starting next year, with a view to working with other countries in the West Africa sub-region to foster the development of the sector.”
In his effort to intensify the promotional bid, the Minister said will finalise work on and launch our National Festival Calendar this year, adding that it is to attract more tourists, domestic and foreign, to these events.
According to him, there is a plan to get more sites in Nigeria inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites as well as explore private sector branding of the nation’s cultural centres abroad.
“Everything, we have listed here and many more are achievable, with the support of stakeholders like you. That is why we have decided to announce the agenda in front of you! We seek your continued cooperation as we set forth on this journey, because we can’t do it without you.”
Reeling few of the achievement, the Minister said “one of the fallout of the meetings held is the Creative Industry Financing Initiative (CIFI) of the Central Bank of Nigeria to improve access to long-term, low-cost financing for entrepreneurs and investors in the Creative Industry and the Information Technology Sectors. Under this Initiative, you can get a loan ranging from N3 million to N500 million for movie production, movie distribution, fashion, music, etc.
“This happened after I led a team of stakeholders to meet with the Central Bank Nigeria, upon the recommendation of the Creative Industry Financing Conference. Same applies to the granting of the pioneer status, by the Federal Government, to the Creative Industry to boost investment in the sector. It was one of the recommendations from the
Creative Industry Financing Conference.
“We also decided to engage in partnerships to fast-track the growth of the industry by signing MoUs with the Tony Elumelu Foundation and the British Council. Under the latter, we trained over 100 Festival Managers in Lagos, Abuja and Accra.
“The next phase in the implementation of the MoU is the mapping of the Creative Industry. Of course, you are aware that when we came on board, Nigeria was just a member of the UNWTO in name. We decided to re-engage fully with the organisation, and our efforts paid off richly.
“First, we were awarded the hosting right of the 61st UNWTO CAF Meeting, which I talked about earlier, and Nigeria was elected as Vice President, Africa, at the 22nd General Assembly of the organisation in China.”
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