Let me start by thanking Your Excellency for sparing the time to receive me and my team. We feel it is appropriate to be here to formally brief you about the First UNWTO Global Conference on Tourism, Culture and the Creative Industries, which Nigeria will host from Nov. 14th to Nov. 16th at the National Theatre in Lagos.
- While Nigeria is the host country of the inaugural edition of this global event, Lagos is the host city, which is very fitting, considering the premier role of the state in tourism, culture and the creative industries.
- Your Excellency, Nigeria won the right to host this event in 2021, during the 64th meeting of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Commission for Africa (CAF), held in Cape Verde. Granting Nigeria the hosting right is a recognition of the country’s growing status, acknowledged globally, in culture, tourism and the creative industries – which comprise many sectors, including music, film, advertising, animation, architecture, design, gaming, gastronomy, performing arts, software and interactive games as well as radio and television.
- This conference marks the fifth time the UNWTO and its member states have demonstrated confidence in Nigeria by giving the country the hosting right of major events of the organization. The last time was in 2018, when Nigeria hosted the 61st UNWTO-CAF meeting in Abuja.
- The forthcoming conference will bring together top executives of the UNWTO, Ministers of Tourism, Culture, Arts and the Creative Industries from the 166 member states of the organization, international and local stakeholders, the media, etc.
- Some have wondered what Nigeria stands to gain by hosting the Global Conference on Culture, Tourism and Creative Industries. Countries bid to host events such as this because of its
socio-economic benefits, hence our hosting of this conference provides an opportunity to, among other, things:
- Showcase Nigeria’s tourism, culture and creative assets;
- Project Nigeria’s image as a safe and desirable destination for leisure and business;
- Consolidate on our relationship with the UNWTO and its member states;
- Generate foreign exchange and create direct and indirect jobs; and
- Highlight the restart of travel and tourism in a safe and seamless manner after the unprecedented impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, which resulted in a near collapse of the sector;
- Interact and exchange ideas and best practices with key industry players;
- And create opportunities for the training of public and private sector tourism officials.
- The choice of the iconic National Theatre, which is the hub of arts and entertainment in Nigeria, is most appropriate. The conference will mark the return of the National Theatre to its role, following the ongoing $100-million rehabilitation of the edifice, and the construction of hubs for music, film, fashion and IT by the Bankers Committee and the Central Bank of Nigeria.
- Your Excellency, please permit me to specially recognize the role of the Lagos State Government in the ongoing restoration of the National Theatre to its former glory. The Lagos State Government is providing invaluable support in partnership with the proponents of the Lagos Creative and Entertainment Centre – the project conceived to refurbish the National Theatre and build a new community of facilities for the fashion, film, music and IT sectors. Working alongside other specialists engaged by the project, the Lagos State Government has joined forces with the Federal Ministry of Environment to ensure that the development and future management activities enhance the natural environment. LASG is specifically paying attention to the
re-installation of the Ebute Meta creek. This will ensure that the water within the wetland is cleaned, leading to the restoration of flora and fauna.
- Lagos State Government is further supporting by contributing financially to the dredging and reclamation works, a commitment made by the State Governor at the onset of the project. And in the area of transportation interconnectivity, the National Theatre terminal is an important component of the Blue Line of the Lagos Mass Transit. When completed, this will ease access to and from the National Theatre.
- Back to the conference, the Planning Committee and the relevant sub-committee have been inaugurated and preparations for the event have started in earnest. And as I said earlier, the essence of this visit is to formally inform Your Excellency about the global conference and the role of Lagos State as the host, which we have summarized in a letter which I will personally deliver today.
- I wish to put on record that the Government of Lagos State has continually demonstrated its commitment to our sector. In 2018, when Nigeria hosted the 61st meeting of the UNWTO-CAF, which I referred to earlier, the tremendous support provided by Lagos State went a long way in ensuring the success of the event. I am equally positive that this event will enjoy Your Excellency’s endorsement and support.
- Finally, we promise to live up to the promise by President Muhammadu Buhari, during his recent visit to the headquarters of the UNWTO in Madrid, Spain, to host a world class conference and to assure all participants of a safe and secure environment as well as adequate facilities.
- I thank you for your kind attention