By G9ija

The United Nations World Tourism Organisation on Tuesday announced the establishment of three universities of Tourism in Africa, with assurance that one will be located in Nigeria.

Zurab Pololikashuili, Secretary General, UNWTO, disclosed this at the opening of the UNWTO Conference in Lagos.

The conference, on: “Linking Tourism, Culture and Creative Industries,” will hold from November 14 to 16, 2022 at the National Theatre complex, Iganmu, Lagos State.

Pololikashuili said: “Since the start of my mandate, I have made education a priority for UNWTO.

“Our expanded online academy and partnerships with key universities are giving people the skills and knowledge that tourism needs.

“We will be siting tourism universities in Africa and one of them will be located here in Nigeria.”

Pololikashuili noted that global tourism start-up competitions had been held for over 10 times and from each, UNWTO had generated great interest and wonderful ideas from across Africa, including from Nigeria.

He congratulated the government of Nigeria for the project and for helping to make the nation one of the most exciting gastronomy tourism destinations right now.

He said it was obvious that tourism was bouncing back, with the observation of the busy airports, full planes and packed conference halls.

According to him, cultural tourism will be a key driver of the sector’s recovery.

Pololikashuili said: “I especially would like to thank President Muhammadu Buhari and his government, represented by the Honourable Minister, Lai Mohammed, for hosting us.

“This is my second time in Nigeria.

“It is a real pleasure to be back and we could not have asked for a better location for this timely conference.

“We are meeting in one of Africa’s youngest and most dynamic countries, Nigeria, and Lagos, especially is a hub of innovation.

“It is home to countless entrepreneurs, including in tourism.

“And, of course, it is home to Nollywood, an industry that makes 50 movies a week and generates $1 billion a year.

“It is a city where culture is celebrated.

“The ‘Flavors of the World’ initiative, for example, caught my eyes.

“It gives us the taste of the diverse gastronomy of our world.”

The Secretary General noted that UNWTO research had found out that culture was the main motivation for tourism growth, as 40 per cent of all tourists going into Africa were spurred by cultural issues.

Pololikashuili said the UNWTO’s partnership with Netflix, a valued UNWTO Affiliate Member, showcased just how well tourism can work.

According to him, both cultural tourism and the creative industries were growing in size and relevance.

He noted that global exports of creative goods could represent 10 per cent of global Gross Domestic Product before 2030.

He said: We have an opportunity to build a more resilient, more sustainable and more inclusive future, this window of opportunity will not stay open for long.

“Tourism and culture are two major providers of jobs and opportunities and we have a duty to ensure that these are decent jobs.

“For many, most notably here in Africa, tourism offers a first step towards economic independence, it can be the start of a lifelong career in tourism.

“We also have a duty to ensure that the opportunities are open to everyone including women, youth and those living in rural communities.”

Pololikashuili noted that gender equality was a key pillar of the UNWTO Agenda for Africa, likewise rural development.

He said that the UNWTO’s Best Tourism Villages initiative recognised the best examples of tourism being a force for good, including its important role in preserving unique cultures.

He said: “The fortunes of tourism and culture are closely linked, when one thrives, the other does too.

“Our sectors have achieved a lot together.

“In many places, tourism has helped keep traditions alive.

“It has also given new artistes and creators the chance to grow.

“This is no time to stop, we can still do more, we can create even more jobs and opportunities, for this, we need the commitment of governments to invest in their people.

“Strong public-private partnerships supporting the tourism workers of tomorrow will deliver long-term benefits for all.”