Heritage Bank Plc has partnered with the United Nations World Tourism Organisation and the Federal Government to transform Nigeria into a tourist destination and boost economic growth and development.
The bank said in a statement that the partnership was announced at the 61st meeting of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation-Commission for Africa in Abuja.
At the meeting, President Muhammadu Buhari described Nigeria as safe and secure for tourism, citing improved security and the country’s burgeoning economy as basis for his verdict.
The statement said he called on tourists and investors in the tourism sector to consider Nigeria as their second home, saying the Federal Government had provided attractive investment incentives for investors in the sector.
According to the statement, Buhari assured investors of minimum tariff on investment on amusement park equipment, materials for hotel construction, furnishing, dedicated transportation for tour operators and equipment for restaurants not manufactured in Nigeria.
He added that there would be minimum duty on casino equipment and work permit for foreign workers with specialised skills within the sector.
The Managing Director, Heritage Bank, Ifie Sekibo, said with the partnership with the Federal Government, the bank would continue to increase its investment and support to the sector in the years ahead.
He said, “In the coming years, we should expect more of better handshake. We intend to do more because looking at what they are trying to achieve here now, we have seen that they are trying to take in much into the other sectors. We think we would still be there for them.”
Sekibo called for increased support from financial institutions and governments at all levels, especially in creating an enabling environment for operators to thrive.
The Secretary-General, United Nations World Tourism Organisation, Zurab Pololikashvili, described Nigeria as having the potential to be one of the world’s best tourist destinations.
He said it was imperative for the nation to have proper statistics of tourism contributions to the growth of the Gross Domestics Product.
Pololikashvili expressed satisfaction at the turnout of both local and foreign participants at the 61st UNWTO/ CAF meeting.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, thanked the UNWTO Secretary-General, his entire team, Heritage Bank and others for their support.
He noted that tourism had become an important sector of the economy for many member states.
“In addition to encouraging infrastructural development and poverty reduction, tourism is one of the sectors the Federal Government has identified as very key to its economic diversification agenda,” he added.