The UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), has formally confirmed Nigeria as the host of its 53rd meeting of the Commission for Africa (CAF) summit, a regional meeting for African Tourism Ministers slated to take place in Calabar, Cross River State, from June 25-27, 2012, Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, High Chief, Edem Duke, has revealed.
The summit with the theme, “Responsible Tourism: Opportunities for Women and Youth,” is to be attended by all 54 African countries and territories that are affiliate members of the UNWTO.
The Minister was in the Madrid headquarters of UNWTO during the week to attend the executive council meeting of the global tourism organization of which he is a member to brief the council of Nigeria’s preparation and readiness to host the summit.
The minister, who was elated following UNWTO confirmation, said “The opportunity to host such an important, continental tourism ministers’ session will bring immense benefits not only for the industry but also for the country.”
According to High Chief Duke, “The decision for Nigeria to host the meeting was taken last year in South Korea during the UNWTO General Assembly meeting.”
He disclosed that other countries that bidded against Nigeria hosting the meeting cited insecurity as a challenge, but their argument failed to dissuade UNWTO, which ratified its earlier decision that awarded the country the hosting rights of the summit.
He said the hosting of the regional tourism confab will afford the country the opportunity to redefine its image, and showcase itself as a place for conferences and exhibitions with warm people and a clean environment.
Apart from tourism ministers that are participating, top UNWTO officials, including its Secretary-General from its headquarters in Madrid, Spain, top government officials from the participating countries, as well as state governors and stakeholders in Nigeria will also be in attendance.
Meanwhile, the Cross River State has accepted the request to host the event, with Governor Liyel Imoke saying that the UNWTO meeting is important to tourism development on the continent, and for Nigeria in particular, Imoke said that the forum would be an opportunity for the state to share its vision with the rest of Africa and the global community.
Nigeria will be hosting the meeting for the second time in six years, with Abuja being the first to do so in 2008.
Nigeria has been actively taking part in UNWTO activities, as available records show that it was through similar active participation in the past that enabled a Nigerian, late Ignatius Amaduwa Atigbi, to propose the marking of every September 27 as World Tourism Day, a feat that he was honored for with a recognition award in 2009 by UNWTO.
Nigeria’s interest in UNWTO activities has been rekindled with the election of the country’s current Tourism Minister Chief Edem Duke into the UN body’s Executive Council, and he is also presently Chairman of the CAF Tourism Ministers.
The Executive Council is UNWTO’s governing board, responsible for ensuring that the organization carries out its work and adheres to its budget. The Council meets at least twice a year and is composed of members elected by the General Assembly in a ratio of one for every five full members.