The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has tasked the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) to adopt creative ways of actualizing its mandate of developing and promoting tourism in Nigeria, with a view to attracting tourists to the country.
The Minister gave the charge when he paid a working visit to the NTDC headquarters in Abuja on Tuesday to kick-start his tour of agencies under his ministry.
“The truth of the matter is that NTDC is not just the apex organization for tourism, it’s actually at the centre of all these tourism activities and when you look at your Act, it actually mandates you to develop, promote and market tourism in Nigeria.
”In other words, you are the chief marketer of Nigeria in terms of bringing in people from outside to see what we have been blessed with and also encouraging people locally to see what they have been blessed with,” he said.
Alhaji Mohammed, who was accompanied by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Deaconess Grace Isu Gekpe, said it is important for the NTDC to understand its pivotal role in coordinating all the activities in the tourism sector, and to realize its huge potential in view of its capacity to create employment and contribute immensely to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
He stressed the need for the NTDC to appreciate that tourism is beyond mere sightseeing as it encompasses the entire creative industry, which includes film, music, gastronomy, fashion, photography and monuments.
“There are many reasons why people should come to Nigeria. We are a country of colours. We are a country of about 250 ethnic groups and each with its own history, its own culture and we are blessed with miles and miles of beaches. We have an almost all-year round good weather.
“We have been blessed with a film industry which is number two in the entire world. We have been blessed with a music industry that has become global,” the Minister said.
Alhaji Mohammed, who noted that the film industry is the least untapped with only 51 cinema houses and less than 200 screens for a population of about 200 million people, urged the NTDC to strive to attract investments that will raise the number of cinema houses to 1000 and at least 6000 screens in order to turn the film industry into a money spinner.
“This is where I think the NTDC will need to work even more closely with the ministry so that we can actually actualize the potentials of this industry and make it not just the fastest growing sector of the economy of Nigeria but also increase its contribution to the GDP from 1.24% to 3 or 3.5%,” he said.
In his remarks, the Director General of the NTDC, Mr. Folorunsho Coker, said it is important to have a legal framework to harness the potential of the tourism sector as a deliberate policy to develop the sector.
He solicited the support of the ministry, especially in utilizing its Information platforms to promote tourism at a global scale.
Coker later took the Minister on a brief tour of some of the facilities at the NTDC headquarters.