Opening Ceremony for the 61st Meeting of the UNWTO Commission for Africa

Abuja, Nigeria
President Buhari,
It is an honour for us that you are here today.
Your presence is recognition that tourism can be as crucial to Nigeria’s economic future as natural resources.
We need political will to make this happen, and to achieve the goals of the global tourism community.
Vice-President Hassani of the Union of the Comoros,
It is an honour to welcome you to our Commission meeting, and to welcome the Union of the Comoros to its first Commission meeting in the region.
As a vice-president holding the portfolio of tourism, you are added proof that Africa acknowledges tourism as a critical economic sector.
I thank you for valuing and supporting our transformative sector.
Minister Mohammed,
I thank you also for using tourism to increase public sector participation in Nigeria’s economy.
We need to build tight links between public and private sectors for tourism to transform growth across the continent, and to the benefit of its people.
Thank you for your support to UNWTO and to this agenda.
Minister Bello,
Thank you for welcoming us to Abuja and to the Federal Capital Territory.
As Minister of this state you have overseen improvement in infrastructure, security and transport.
Abuja is a calm and diverse city and we are very pleased to be here.
Mr. Dangote,
As one of Nigeria’s biggest employers and passionate supporters of poverty alleviation, we are very grateful that you could join us today.
Tourism has a positive direct and indirect impact on reducing poverty and inequality around the world.
Thank you for being here and believing in tourism as a tool for improving lives.
Honourable Ministers, Ambassadors and Heads of Delegation
Representatives of tourism and regional authorities
Ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you all for your presence today. 
I also wish to thank our sponsors.
It is a pleasure to be here for my first Regional Commission meeting for Africa as UNWTO Secretary-General.
The priorities of my mandate have been formed by listening to the needs of our Member States.
They include the crucial targets of creating more and better tourism jobs, improving tourism education and fostering innovation.
These are crucial targets because the competitiveness of our sector, and of your economies, depends on how much we invest in delivering them. 
Through listening to your needs, the specific needs of Africa, we have created our Agenda for Africa. 
We have built a truly common action plan to serve your objectives. 
Its central priorities are:
to alleviate poverty through tourism projects requested by you;
to find innovative approaches to developing tourism in the region;
and to find and foster new partnerships and resources.
We are here to listen to your insight and suggestions for working together, with the public and private sectors, toward a stronger tourism. 
Today we are joined by Nigeria’s leader and by its most successful businessman.
This is proof of a change in the recognition of tourism in Nigeria and in Africa.
It is proof that tourism is now one of the most promising, highest-potential sectors for improving societies, economies and livelihoods.
With enough political and financial support we can deliver on this huge potential.
This is why I am delighted to begin this new era for UNWTO with such a meaningful and significant meeting.
Thank you again for being here. I wish you productive days ahead.