Dr Memunatu Pratt, Sierra Leone Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, on Sunday declared the 18th edition of AKWAABA Africa Travel and Tourism Market open in Lagos.
Pratt, during the opening ceremony of the tourism expo at the Wave Beach, Lekki, urged West Africans to leverage the enormous tourism potential within the region to boost the economies of their countries.
She said tourism must be taken seriously as it was capable of uniting Africans and improving urban planning development.
“I am happy to be here and to do things with West Africa, let us take tourism serious.
“Tourism will be a game changer for our lives in terms of the job market; making sure we take care of cultural sites; building our heritage and in urban planning and development.
“As West Africans, we should invest in tourism promotion, this will bring us closer and unite us.
“The beautiful thing tourism does is that it increases cultural relations, partnerships, love and patriotism among nations, there is so much we have in common that we have to celebrate.
“When I came into Lagos, I observed that a lot has been done positively like the road network, it is quite interesting to he here again after 2017,” she said.
The minister said West African countries had not done much in tourism development compared to other regions as she acknowledged AKWAABA’s contributions so far.
Pratt commended the Federal Government’s move to revive the celebration of the Festival for Arts and Culture (FESTAC”77).
“I am glad about the revival of FESTAC”77, these are things we should be looking forward to so that we can have intra-cultural and tourism activities, master piece artistes performances, all to bridge the existing gap between the countries within the region.
“We have so many challenges in West Africa today and some of the reasons is that we are so far apart from one another. We trade, yet we are not in the position to pull ourselves together.
“Tourism is a beautiful avenue to come closer,” she said.
The Convener, Mr Ikechi Uko, Founder of AKWAABA Africa Travel and Tourism Market, who welcomed everyone to the expo, promised that it would an educating, entertaining and refreshing session.
BrandPower reports that the 18th AKWAABA Africa Travel and Tourism Market holds from Oct. 30 to Nov. 1.