Minister of Information and Culture, Lai MohammedThe House of Representatives Committee on Culture and Tourism yesterday tasked the Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Alh. Lai Mohammed to come up with policies that will drive the tourism sector towards the enhancement of the country’s Gross Domestic Products (GDP).
The committee chaired by Hon. Ogbeide Ihama is also urging the minister to push for aggressive investments in tourism, as a way of marketing the country’s cultural potentials globally.
The committee handed down the charge while engaging the Ministry in its 2017 budget proposals.
The committee chairman further urged the Minister to ensure that Federal Government begins to properly fund the tourism sector.
According to him, the importance of boosting the tourism sector can no longer be ignored.
“Last two years the Federal Government has been talking about diversification and one area that can do this is the tourism sector.
“Nigeria is blessed with natural endowments, talents are tied to culture and we don’t need much other than to support it.
“We need to go back to the roots for our people to showcase their talents; government must support this sector in its drive to diversify the economy”, Ihama said.
Responding, the minister decried the infrastructural decay inhibiting the growth of tourism in the country.
Mohammed pointed out that most of the cultural heritage sites in the country were not motorable.
“Nigeria ranks high in terms of natural endowments but where are the infrastructure to explore these endowments; the roads are impassable.
“We have not invested in infrastructure over the years.
“We need adequate funds to build a national museum and the Ministry is in partnership with Lagos state government to raise the fund.
“No tourism can thrive where there is no security and infrastructure”, Mohammed said.
The Minister, however, called for private sector participation as well as modern curriculum in secondary and tertiary institutions to promote culture and tourism in the country.
He also stressed the need to subsidize the creative industry to ensure that young creative persons have access to funds.
“Over the years Government has not appropriated sufficient funds to help drive the industry to ensure it contributes meaningfully to the economy”, he added.
Lai Mohammed, however, called for patience with government, saying there is no quick fix to repositioning the tourism sector.