MON, JUN 08 2020-theG&BJournal- Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture Alhaji Lai Mohammed has asked the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) to support African countries with ’Marshall Plan’ to aid recovery of the Travel and Tourism, and the entire Creative Industry.
He told members of the UNWTO Commission for Africa participating at the 63rd virtual meeting Monday that the sector is a driver of growth and economic prosperity, accounting for one in every ten jobs globally.
‘’The employment opportunities provided by the sector benefit a wide variety of people, especially the low skilled, the youth and women,’’ the minister said while making a pitch for the industry which he says is the most severely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
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The Minister who in early May named a 22-member stakeholders Committee to advice the Federal Government on COVID-19 impact on Creative Industry in Nigeria, said for Africa, focusing on rural tourism will help speed up the recovery process in the Travel and Tourism sector. ‘’This is because rural tourism employs more people in Africa-in arts, crafts, culture and heritage.’’
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That makes it imperative, according to him, for the UNWTO to support Africa with the Marshall Plan of sorts, in terms of technical assistance, capacity building and grants.
He recalled the U$500 million support provided by the Afreximbank for Creative Industry in Africa announced by the Bank’s President Benedict Oramah at the Creative Africa Exchange in Kigali, Rwanda, in January. “This will come handy as our sector seeks to recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.’’
He noted that the Travel and Tourism sector as well as the Creative Industry in Nigeria is large, diverse and dynamic, contributing between 2.5 and 3% to the nation’s GDP. It is also critical for economic growth, development and diversification.
He also shinned light on some of the measures the Federal Government is taking to sustain the industry in Nigeria.
‘’We are also rejigging the National Endowment for Arts to align it with current realities. We are studying the new set of guidelines and recommendations by the UNWTO as well as ‘Safe Travel Protocols’ designed by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) for the purpose of domesticating them.’’