By Seyi Gesinde
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, will flag off the maiden Global Conference on Linking Tourism, Culture and the Creative Industry, holding in Lagos today, Tuesday, November 15, 2022.
Representing President Muhammadu Buhari at the event, Prof Osinbajo will be receiving the Secretary-General of the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), Zurab Pololikashvilli, who arrived in Nigeria on Monday, for the opening of an expert workshop of the UNWTO Tourism Summit preparatory for today’s event.
The UNWTO boss in his speech at the event said Nigeria was chosen to present African culture to the world because of its rich cultural heritage and its comparative advantage in the creative industry.
Earlier, President Buhari had committed to welcoming Pololikashvilli to Nigeria and to be the Special Guest of Honour at the Lagos event, during his visit to UNWTO headquarters in Madrid, Spain, in June, 2022, but for the flag-off of the All Progress Congress (APC) presidential campaign in Jos, Plateau State, which the ruling party later fixed for the same date with the President as the chief campaigner.
🇳🇬 is a leading destination in Africa thanks to high-level support like yours.
— Zurab Pololikashvili (@pololikashvili) June 1, 2022
Buhari, who in June 2022, became the first Nigerian leader to visit the headquarters of the UN tourism agency, which Nigeria joined in 1975, was received by the UNWTO Secretary-General, Pololikashvili.
For his unavailability to be physically present at today’s event, as gathered, the President who had earlier exonerated the Vice President from the 2023 presidential campaign programmes, but for him to face governance, had detailed Prof Osinbajo, to represent him at the event.
The VP’s spokesperson, Laolu Akande, had also in a short message released via his social media handle informed that: “VP Osinbajo is in Lagos today representing Mr President as Special Guest of Honour to receive and join the Secretary General of the UN World Tourism Organisation Mr Zurab Pololikashvili at the global conference for promotion and linking together of tourism and creative industries.”
At the three-day conference which began on Monday is being held at the historical National Arts Theatre in Lagos, still under renovation, addressing participants at the experts’ workshop, Pololikashvili noted that African culture was not presented outside of the country like it is.
He said the strategy adopted by the UNWTO to address the challenge was to come under one umbrella with their partners to hold the maiden conference to agree on the modalities to promote African culture outside of the continent.
“I do not think that there is a better place to start the legacies than Nigeria and at this vertical theatre, a historical landmark of the country undergoing renovation.
“We want to support and promote African culture and creative industry to tourists all around the world.
“So, our presence here today is the first pilot project to promote the culture of Africa, from Nigeria,” he said.
The UNWTO boss also underscored the role of tourism as a driver of growth and opportunity for employment creation.
He said there was a huge talent pool in the continent that was waiting to be tapped as well as a lot of opportunities and space for investments in the sector.
“I am therefore very happy that we want to use these three days here in Nigeria to talk to discuss, to entertain ourselves
“We will discuss a lot of challenges we have on the continent and please, let us be active and let us participate in these very important and historical days,” he said.
The event, which was attended by participants from UNWTO member countries, featured discussions with the students on tourism and its importance to development.