MINISTER of Culture, Tourism and National Orientation, Edem Duke, and his Youth Development counterpart, Inuwa Abdulkabir, have called for support and empowerment of women and youths to enable them contribute effectively to the development of the continent’s tourism sector.
Speaking at the 53rd UNWTO Commission for Africa’s opening ceremony, Duke, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Mrs. A. Daniel-Nwaobia, said women and youths play a key role in tourism development and canvassed the best way of bringing them into tourism business.
Duke said the theme of the three-day conference: “Responsible tourism: Opportunities for women and youths,” was very timely and relevant and of particular interest to the minister.
“This interest is derived from our belief in the robust potential and ability of Nigerian women and youths to contribute to and enhance the rapid growth of this sector through their active participation,” the minister disclosed.
He added that the conference offers opportunity for the ministry to share “ideas in this area and rub minds with other stakeholders with a view to evolving the best ways of further mainstreaming our women and youths into the business of tourism.”
As part of efforts at achieving this dream, he said Nigeria had adopted and is implementing a national tourism master-plan by working with the relevant professionals and stakeholders in the industry to implement the master-plan.
The minister used the occasion to thank President Goodluck Jonathan for the new visa regime, which he said, would boost tourism, disclosing that the ministry would take advantage of this development by “intensifying our efforts, cooperate and collaborate with national and international agencies, particularly the UNWTO that the renewed official interest in tourism development is sustained”.
While also expressing delight at the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) report, which revealed that tourism contributed 2.9 per cent to employment and 3.3 per cent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2010/2011, Duke said the ministry hoped to double the figures for this year.
On his part, Abdulkabir said his ministry was exploring ways in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation and others in re-orienting Nigerian youths in order to create jobs and opportunities for them to excel and contribute to national development.
He further revealed plans by the ministry to re-awaken all organisations in the country that encourage the youth to realise their potential to the fullest.
The Citizenship and Leadership Centre in Jos, Abdulkabir said, had been mandated to work with other relevant agencies to organise special programmes that would instil the sense of responsibility, good citizenship and entrepreneurship among the youth.