Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has charged the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) to adopt creative ways of actualising its mandate of developing and promoting tourism in the country.
Lai charged the corporation when he paid a working visit to its headquarters in Abuja on Tuesday to begin his tour of agencies under his ministry.
“The truth of the matter is that NTDC is not just the apex organisation for tourism, it’s actually at the centre of all these tourism activities and when you look at your Act, it actually mandates you to develop, promote and market tourism in Nigeria.
”In other words, you are the chief marketer of Nigeria in terms of bringing in people from outside to see what we have been blessed with and also encouraging people locally to see what they have been blessed
with,” he said.
The minister said NTDC should understand its pivotal role in coordinating all the activities in the country’s tourism sector and also realize its capacity in creating employment and contributing to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
He stressed that it was high time the management of the corporation stops seeing tourism beyond mere sightseeing as it encompasses the entire creative industry, which include film, music, gastronomy, fashion, photography and monuments.
According to him, “There are many reasons why people should come to Nigeria. We are a country of colours. We are a country of about 250 ethnic groups and each with its own history, its own culture and we are blessed with miles and miles of beaches. We have an almost all-year round good weather.
“We have been blessed with a film industry which is number two in the entire world. We have been blessed with a music industry that has become global,” the Minister said.
He noted that Nigeria’s film industry was the least untapped in the sector as it currently boasts of only 51 cinema houses and less than 200 screens.
The minister therefore urged the NTDC to strive to attract investments that will raise the number of cinema houses to 1,000 and at least 6,000 screens in order to turn the film industry into a money spinner.
“This is where I think the NTDC will need to work even more closely with the ministry so that we can actually actualize the potentials of this industry and make it not just the fastest growing sector of the economy of Nigeria but also increase its contribution to the GDP from 1.24% to 3 or 3.5%,” he said.
Responding, Director General, NTDC, Folorunsho Coker, said it was important to have a legal framework to harness the potential of the sector.
He solicited for the support of the ministry, especially its Information platforms to promote Nigeria’s tourism industry at a global scale.