The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed disclosed on Wednesday that the idea of World Tourism Day being marked globally on Sept. 27 was initiated by a Nigerian, late Ignatius Amaduwa Atigbi.
The Minister, who is the Vice President, Africa, United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) disclosed this in a statement issued in London to mark the 2017 World Tourism Day.
He said that Atigbi was the then Secretary-General of the Nigeria Tourism Association (NTA), now Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), and Chairman of Africa Travel Commission (ATC).
Mohammed said that the World Tourism Day was adopted at the 22nd General Assembly of the International Union of Official Travel Organizations (IUOTO) in 1971.
He said that World Tourism Day “is marked annually to create awareness for tourism as a tool for economic growth and promotion of international peace and understanding.”
According to Wikipedia, the late Atigbi “was finally recognised for his contribution in 2009 and the colour of World Tourism Day is Blue.”
In his message to mark the day, the minister noted that “sustainability is absolutely necessary if tourism is to achieve its full potentials, which include being a catalyst for economic growth and poverty eradication”.
He stressed that without sustainability tourism could not generate benefits to all stakeholders, solve serious problems such as extreme poverty.
According to him, it cannot also ensure the preservation of precious natural and man-made resources on which human prosperity is based.
Referring to the theme of this year’s World Tourism Day – ‘Sustainable Tourism – Tool for Development’, he charged member states of UNWTO to ensure that their policies for tourism development fully embraced the principles of sustainability.
”The sustainability principles refer to the environmental, economic and socio-cultural aspects of tourism development, and a suitable balance must be established among these three dimensions,” he said.
The minister underscored the power and potential of tourism to help eradicate poverty.
”Today, tourism generates 10 per cent of the world’s GDP, one in every 10 jobs, and 30 per cent of world trade in services. It is key to many countries’ economies and livelihoods.
“It has evolved from an industry engaged in and patronised only by the rich and elites of the society to an industry enjoyed by all with significant impact on the nation’s economy.
”As an invisible export, tourism creates a flow of foreign currency into the economy of a nation through public revenue which comes in the form of taxes, duties, licenses.
“Business revenue derived from services provided by restaurants, hotels, transport, shops etc and from local resident revenue which come in the form of wages, salaries, rent, interests in investments,” he said.
The minister assured that the Federal Government would continue to play its part in the development and management of tourism and in making it more sustainable.
He, however, noted that the real key to making Nigeria’s tourism industry flourish laid with the industry itself and the businesses and organisations at its heart.
”Governments use a number of mechanisms to encourage greater private-sector engagement, capturing its expertise in ways that will be beneficial to the companies themselves as well as population.
“The private sector on the other hand has an opportunity to work collaboratively with government to yield unprecedented returns in both economic and human capital,” he said.
Mohammed said that sustainable tourism required the informed participation of all relevant stakeholders as well as strong political leadership to ensure wide participation and consensus building.