Tourism, tool for fostering unity in Africa – Minister

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By Taiye Olayemi

The Minister of Tourism, Mrs Lola Ade-John, on Wednesday urged African youths to embrace the transformative power of tourism to foster unity and progress in the continent.

Ade-John made the call at the maiden edition of the Africa Youth Tourism Festival (AYTF), ongoing at the Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos.

The five-day festival is organised by Mr Ayo Omotosho, a tourism promoter.

The minister said that tourism promotes unity by bridging differences and fostering understanding among people.

She said tourism should not be seen as just sightseeing, adding that it was also about building connections and breaking barriers.

“Let us seize the power of tourism to showcase Africa’s beauty, Nigeria’s uniqueness, celebrate our shared humanity, and strengthen friendships across borders.

“Our continent is home to diverse ethnicities, languages, and customs and it is through tourism that we discover the common threads that bind us together as Africans.

“When individuals from different corners of our continent converge to explore heritage sites, partake in festivals, and immerse themselves in local communities, they are not merely tourists but ambassadors of unity.

“Africa’s rich cultures, traditions, and natural wonders are treasures that can and will propel us forward,” she said.

The minister explained that tourism drives sustainable development by creating jobs, alleviating poverty, supporting local businesses and protecting the environment.

She assured Africans of the Nigerian government’s support in ensuring adequate investments in people and infrastructure.

She said there would also be support in the promotion of entrepreneurship and safeguarding Nigeria’s natural environments.

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“With this, we can unlock the full potential of tourism as a catalyst for socio-economic advancement.

“By embracing sustainable practices and responsible tourism initiatives, we can ensure that the benefits derived from tourism are equitably distributed, empowering local communities and preserving our cultural and ecological heritage for generations to come.

“This event highlights the vibrant spirit of our continent and the importance of tourism in bringing us together for unity and sustainable development of the tourism sector,” she said.

Earlier, Gorapetswe Lebang, General Manager, Planet Bamboo Lodge, Botswana, urged African youths to promote unity in the tourism space to build a formidable economy for the continent.

She said that African youths had huge responsibility in preserving the fauna and floral endowments within the continent, to generate wealth.

“Promoting Africa should be our collective responsibility as youths,” she said.

Also, Dr Ifeoluwa Akinsola of the Department of Arts and Social Science Education, University of Ibadan, called for the use of the social media in marketing Africa’s cultural heritages.

Akinsola urged African governments to organise periodic orientation for the youth on various means through which African cultural virtues could be commercialised.

The highlight of the festival was the exhibition of Nigeria’s culinary heritage by the National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism (NIHOTOUR).

Local cal cuisines like Moimoi, Abacha, Yam Porridge, Tuwo Shinkafa, Mia Taushe, Tuwo Masara, Masa, Afang soup, Bitter leave soup and many more were showcased.

Also on display were local beverages like Ginger, Zobo drink, Palm Wine, Fura De Nunu among others.

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In his remarks, Alhaji Nura Kangiwa, Director-General of NIHOTOUR, who was represented by Mr Philip Maga, Director, Special Duties in the institute, said the exhibition was to expose African youths to the business aspect of culinary tourism.

Kangiwa said, “This is an easy occupational trade the youth can get engaged in to reduce poverty, address youth restiveness and eradicate unemployment.

“The institute is open for all to be trained in all areas of hospitality management and culinary expertise.” (NAN)

Edited by Folasade Adeniran

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