The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has made a request to Cross River State to host its 53rd Session for African Ministers of Tourism in June.
The Minister of Culture, Tourism and Orientation, Chief Edem Duke disclosed this while presenting the request to Governor Liyel Imoke in Calabar, the state capital yesterday.
He said the opportunity to host such a session will be a rare honour not only for the industry but also for the country.
Duke explained that the decision for an African nation to host the meeting was taken last year in South Korea and that all the 56 African tourism ministers, 25 top UNWTO officials from its headquarters in Madrid, Spain, top government officials from the participating countries as well as stakeholders in Nigeria will be in attendance.
He said in decades past Nigeria was seen only in the petroleum world but not in the tourism world as a destination, though Cross River State, southsouth Nigeria, has created tremendous impact in the industry.
He added that if Nigeria wants to be among top 20 economies in 2020, it must do what advanced countries are doing by diversifying its economy through development of the tourism industry which is all embracing.
He disclosed that when those against Nigeria hosting the meeting cited insecurity as a challenge, UNWTO decided that it should be held in Calabar, Cross River State, which is a testimony that the state is the best and suitable place to host the all important event.
According to Duke, this will afford the country the opportunity to redefine its image, showcase itself as a place for conferences and exhibitions with warm people and clean environment.
Accepting the request, Senator Imoke noted that the UNWTO meeting is important to tourism development in the continent and that the state will create synergy by working with the Federal Government because it sees it as a value market to maximize benefits and as such will work with the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Orientation to drive the process.
The governor said it will be an opportunity for the state to share its vision with the rest of the world.
He reiterated his call for the introduction of tourism visa in the country as done in advanced countries because Nigeria is gradually creating an impact in that sector, as currently, no visitor comes into the country with it, stressing that the meeting will be a good opportunity to place Cross River in the world tourism map.