The Ministry of Culture, Tourism and National Orientation on Tuesday said N25 billion was required for the successful implementation of the Tourism Masterplan.
The Minister of Culture, Tourism and National Orientation, Mr Edem Duke, said this in Abuja at the 2014 budget defence of the ministry before the Senate Committee on Culture, Tourism and National Orientation.
Duke said implementation of the Tourism Masterplan was key to effective development of the nation’s tourism potentials to create revenue for government and jobs for the people.
“We need about N25 billion to effectively implement the Tourism Masterplan but the non-allocation of funds had stalled this crucial project.
“By the budget being virtually doubled this year, we are looking at a budget of N331 million for 2014 for the implementation of the Tourism Master plan.
“If this amount (N331 million) is made available annually, we would be able to commence the effective implementation of the Tourism Master plan,” he said.
Duke said that the ministry intended to pay attention to the promotion of heritage festivals held in various parts of the country.
According to him, the cultural festivals deserve to be given the necessary support as part of government’s effort to boost the sector in view of its role as key to national integration.
“We have to support to these cultural festivals so that cultural custodians will see the support as an encouragement to the deployment of culture as a tool for national integration,” Duke said.
The minister said the ministry would open cultural centres in Trinidad and Tobago and South Africa within the second quarter of 2014.
The ministry presented a total budget estimate of N2.5 billion, out which N1.3 billion is for capital expenditure.
The sum of N528.1 million was proposed for overhead costs, while N587.4 million would cover personnel costs.
Meanwhile, the Director-General, Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation, Mrs Sally Mbanefo, said the commission would focus on revenue generation for the government.
Mbanefo said the NTDC under her leadership would ensure that domestic tourism was given more priority to make Nigerians aware of their cultural festivals and sites.
“The new NTDC would be focused on revenue generation. We would fine-tune ways of generating money for government and in the process create jobs for people.
“We would also strengthen the tourism value chain by encouraging domestic tourism in partnership with the private sector and federal, states and local governments.
“Foreigners would not be interested in visiting our cultural festivals and cultural sites if we as citizens don’t even know these sites,” she said
The NTDC boss said she had commenced a tour of all the tourism sites across the country to authenticate Nigeria’s cultural sites for effective marketing to the international audience.