The Minister made the remarks in Abuja on Monday when he received the organisers and contestants of the Miss Polo International Beauty Pageant, due to hold in the nation’s capital on Tuesday (28 Aug. 2018).
“There is no doubt that Nigeria is fast becoming a destination of choice for international tourists, thanks to the country’s hospitable people, the country’s increasingly-high rating in the international community and the successes achieved by the present Administration in ensuring the security of lives and property, as well as providing the such infrastructure as power, roads, and rail.
”The Administration’s Visa On Arrival policy is also helping in making Nigeria a destination of choice for tourists and business people in general. The Federal Government will continue to pursue those policies that are fast turning Nigeria into a destination of choice: Enhancing security, building infrastructure, implementing the tourism master-plan, and strengthening the Visa On Arrival Policy,” he said.
Alhaji Mohammed said just before the Beauty Pageant, Nigeria hosted high profile international events such as the UN World Tourism Organisation-Commission for Africa Meeting, which was attended by Tourism Ministers and representatives from 51 African countries, as well as the World Congress of the International Press Institute (IPI) that attracted journalists and editors from around the world.
He said the recent surprise visit by President Emmanuel Macron of France to the African Shine in Lagos has also confirmed that Nigeria is now set to receive global tourists.
The Minister said from the testimonies of the participants at the UNWTO-CAF Meeting and the IPI World Congress, it was clear that what they saw when they visited Nigeria is totally at variance with what they may have heard or read about the country.
In her remarks, the President of the Miss Polo International Beauty Pageant, Mrs. Ibife Alufohai, said the pageantry is not just about beauty but also to recognize excellence in creativity and community service, particularly in the improvement of the quality of education by the beauty queens in their individual countries.
She thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for securing the country and providing the right atmosphere for such an international event to take place.
For her part, Miss India, Nasneen Sheikh, said her experience in Nigeria made her to feel at home and that she is prepared to change the perception of the world about Nigeria.
“If you want to see a change, be the change and I am here to be the change for everybody out there to clear the mentality of the entire world, not only my country, about Nigeria,” she said.
Also speaking, Miss Finland said while coming for the pageantry, her parents had expressed apprehension about the security situation in Nigeria, adding that having visited the country, she can confirm to the world that Nigeria is safe.
“My family was worried. They said you want to go to Nigeria, it’s not safe but it’s safe and I am absolutely happy to be here,” she said.
Miss Denmark, Monika Kuzmova, said after spending time in Nigeria, she will take it upon herself to change the opinions of people about Nigeria.
“My mission here is to open the eyes and minds of the people in Europe, especially my family, to change their opinion about Africa, especially this country, Nigeria,” she said.
For Miss Kenya, Sheila Kanini, having interacted with a lot of Nigerians in her country, she had been looking forward to visiting Nigeria, adding that she found Abuja to be a beautiful city.
Contestants from 17 countries across five continents are participating in the Miss Polo International Beauty pageant.