By Adelola Amihere
Against the backdrop of its diversification agenda of the economy through agriculture, mining and tourism, President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday called on international investors in the tourism sector to take advantage of Nigeria’s population and diverse ethnicity to invest heavily in the nations tourism sector.
This is just as he also highlighted some attractive investment incentives geared towards encouraging more investments in the sector.
The President who was represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha made the appeal during the opening of the 61st meeting of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation Regional Commission for Africa, (UNWTO) with the theme: “Tourism Statistics – A Catalyst for Development”
He said: “The importance of tourism and its potential to national economies cannot be overemphasized. Tourism, as we all know, contributes to the wealth of nations and the well-being of citizens, largely through foreign exchange earnings, generation of revenue, creation of employment as well as peaceful co-existence.
“It is on this basis that I call on tourists and investors in the tourism sector to consider Nigeria as their second home. This government has attractive investment incentives for investors in the tourism sector including but not limited to: Pioneer status to all major tourism projects; Minimum tariff on imported tourism equipment, amusement park equipment and materials for hotel construction and furnishings.
Other incentives include, “dedicated transportation for tour operators and equipment for restaurants not manufactured in Nigeria; minimum duty on casino equipment; work permit for foreign workers with specialized skills within the industry; as well as land at concessionary rate by state governments to tourism investors.
President Buhari further assured that government was also deepening the legislative and institutional capacities for the protection of intellectual property rights in Nigeria saying “this will give all investors the assurance of security of their rights especially in the creative industry”.
While reiterating governments commitment to increasing the massive infrastructure development already going on, President Buhari further assured that government was committed to providing public safety and security to all Nigerians, investors and tourists.
“Government is also investing a lot of resources into building the inventory of equipment and capacity of security agencies to keep the country safe”, he added.
Reeling out some statistics on the tourism industry earlier, Dr Aman Abou-Zeid, African Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy said the value of the industry now stands at $160 billion accounting for 60 percent of GDP in the African continent.
“Tourism alone receives the contribution from manufacturing and banking sectors. This industry accounts for more than 6 percent of the total investments valued at $29 billion and employs over 20 million people accounting for 6.5 percent of the total workforce in the continent.
“Tourism in the continent supports more than 21 million jobs or one in 14 jobs. This is how important tourism is.
“So that is why we are privatising and making sure that we refocus and put tourism in its rightful place,” she said.
Speaking further, Dr Abou-zeid revealed that 5 percent of the tourism industry will grow much faster than the forecasted 4.8 normal growth for the continent over the next 10 years.