Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Nigeria’s immediate past Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism has been appointed Special Advisor to Mr Zurab Pololikashvili, the Secretary-General of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).
A statement made available to our correspondent indicated that the announcement of Mohammed’s appointment was made during the opening session of the 66th UNWTO Commission for Africa (CAF) currently underway in Mauritius.
Mohammed brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to his new task having consistently played instrumental roles in the affairs of the world tourism body for the past seven years.
He led the organisation of the 61st UNWTO CAF Meetings in Nigeria in 2018 and the maiden UNWTO Global Conference on Linking Tourism, Culture and Creative Industries in Lagos last year.
He is expected to help Pololikashvili pursue his objective of making Africa a key region for the global tourism economy through his Agenda for Africa programme.
Accepting the new role, Mohammed expressed his gratitude, saying that he was inspired by the confidence reposed in him by the secretary-general.
“I stand before you, deeply touched and inspired by your generous words of confidence and trust.
“With so much gratitude for the confidence placed in me by the Secretary General of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Mr Zurab Pololikashivili and with an unswerving resolve to honour that trust, I humbly accept the appointment as the Special Advisor on Tourism to the Secretary General of this great Organisation.
“This would mark the first time that I would be attending a function of the UNWTO as a private individual having for the past seven years, served as the Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“I wish to extend my deepest respect and appreciation to all the leaders of the member states, particularly those from the Africa region, for their support and friendship,” he maintained.
Mohammed added: “I am deeply honoured to become the first Nigerian to serve in this capacity.
“Nigeria is dynamic and diverse in terms of natural and human resources in the areas of tourism, culture, creative industries, technology, and other aspects of our national economy.
“Having come so far and rising still, Nigeria in particular, and the African region in general is living and shaping the full range of achievements and challenges of our current times.
“It is, therefore, inspiring to take on more responsibilities that will guide the development of tourism in a more responsible and sustainable manner.”
The mandate of the Special Advisor cuts across several responsibilities ranging from assisting in developing a strategy for restarting sustainable and safe tourism post-COVID-19 and advising the UNWTO secretary-general on issues related to information and culture.
The former minister is also expected to prepare relevant reports and research documents in line with UNWTO’s principles and accompany the secretary-general on his official visits.
He is also expected to offer advice to him during such visits and propose relevant actions of public relations in line with the world tourism body’s priorities.