The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has said Nigeria is fast becoming a destination of choice for international tourists, because of government’s favourable policies.
The minister made the remarks in Abuja on Monday when he received the organisers and contestants of the Miss Polo International Beauty Pageant, which held yesterday.
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“There is no doubt that Nigeria is fast becoming a destination of choice for international tourists, thanks to the country’s hospitable people,” he said.
Before the pageant, Nigeria hosted high profile international events such as, the UN World Tourism Organisation-Commission for Africa Meeting, which was attended by Tourism Ministers and representatives from 51 African countries, as well as the World Congress of the International Press Institute (IPI) that attracted journalists and editors from around the world.
The most recent is President Emmanuel Macron of France’s surprise visit to one of the country’s culture icons, African Shine in Lagos.
At the 61st United Nations World Tourism Organisation, UNWTO, Commission for Africa (UNWTO-CAF) conference held in Abuja, the ministersaid government has identified culture – as a unique brand to build on, in the promotion of the country as a destination of choice.
He said, “our greatest strength lies in our creative industry, our music, films and theatre. This is an area where we want to build on. It is an area where we have comparative advantage over many other countries.”
Aside from the minister’s speech, delegates at UNWTO-CAF had a dose of the country’s culture starting with the Seki Dance Drama, created by Yibo Koko, a notable filmmaker, which traces the American tap dance to the indigenous people of Niger-Delta area of Nigeria.
In her remarks, the President of the Miss Polo International Beauty Pageant, Mrs. Ibife Alufohai, said the pageantry is not just about beauty, but also to recognise excellence in creativity and community service.
She thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for providing the right atmosphere for such an international event to hold.
For her part, Miss India, Nasneen Sheikh, said her experience in Nigeria made her to feel at home, adding that she is prepared to change the perception of the world about Nigeria.
“If you want to see a change, be the change and I am here to be the change for everybody out there to clear the mentality of the entire world, not only my country, about Nigeria,” she said.
Also speaking, Miss Finland said while coming for the pageantry, her parents had expressed apprehension about the security situation in Nigeria, however, that having visited the country, she can confirm to the world that Nigeria is safe.
“My family was worried. They said you want to go to Nigeria, it’s not safe but it’s safe and I am absolutely happy to be here,” she said.
Miss Denmark, Monika Kuzmova, said after spending time in Nigeria, she would take it upon herself to change the opinions of people about Nigeria.
“My mission here is to open the eyes and minds of the people in Europe, especially my family, to change their opinion about Africa, especially this country, Nigeria,” she said.
For Miss Kenya, Sheila Kanini, having interacted with a lot of Nigerians in her country, she had been looking forward to visiting Nigeria, adding that she found Abuja to be a beautiful city.
Contestants from 17 countries across five continents are participating in the Miss Polo International Beauty pageant.