The Federal Government yesterday faulted recent claims by the US government that at least 20 states in the federation were not safe for its citizens.
The American government had in its recent travel advisory, cautioned its citizens not to travel to any of the 20 states, citing armed robbery, kidnapping and terrorism, among others, as reasons for the advice.
But Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who dismissed the US government’s claim when he received a delegation from the Association of Tourism Practitioners of Nigeria in Abuja, said every state in the country was safe.
He said the advisory published by the U.S. Embassy was incorrect, urging the media to desist from propagating negative reports about the country.
Mohammed said such practice would discourage investors and was counter-productive to the country’s tourism growth.
He said: “We are in Nigeria. How can we believe the claim that 20 states in Nigeria are not safe.That is not correct. There is no state in Nigeria that is not safe today,” the minister said.
“Is there any week they are not killing people in the U.S., by either shooting in schools or driveways or people committing suicide or mass bombing? How many of these stories do their media celebrate?
‘’If they want to tell their people not to come to Nigeria, it is not for us to help them propagate it,” he said.
The minister urged the media and members of the association to complement efforts of government to reposition the tourism sector, pointing out that tourism was driven by perception, rather than reality, while every Nigerian must invest in perception management for the country.
Mohammed, who also urged leaders in the public and private sectors to help promote local tourism by spending their vacations and holidays at tourist sites within the country, said the ministry would soon embark on visitation of major tourism sites in the country to assess their potentialities for development.
National President of the association, Kabir Malan, who led the delegation, commended the minister for his efforts at repositioning the tourism sector.
He called for the review and implementation of the Tourism National Plan as well as the enactment of laws that would guide the operation of tourism practitioners.
Mr. Malan also urged the government to encourage investors to set up tourist camps across the country and make loans accessible to them.