Following a final push by a letter written by the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation and orchestrated by a Nigerian travel tourism journalist, Lucky Onoriode George, to the United Nations World Tourism Organization [UNWTO], to remind the body of its 2006 promise to honor late Ignatius Amaduwa Atigbi, a Nigerian who during his days as the head of the country tourism agency and chairman of Africa Travel Commission proposed the idea of marking September 27 of every year as World Tourism Day, the UNWTO has finally honored Atigbi .
The ministry in a letter dated August 11, 2009, read, “ I write to remind the authority of the United Nations World Tourism Organization [UNWTO], under the leadership of Mr. Taleb Rifai of its earlier promise to honor the late Nigerian tourism czar.”
The ministry noted that UNWTO in its letter of September 29th, 2006, by the former secretary general, Mr. Francesco Frangialli, stated, “I would like to commemorate the late Ignatius Amaduwa Atigbi, former director general, Nigeria Tourist Association [NTA], now Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation [NTDC] and chairman African Travel Commission.”
UNWTO explained that in 1971, in Ankara, Turkey, Mr. Atigbi proposed the creation of the World Tourism Day at the XXII General Assembly of the International Union of Official Travel Organization [IUOTO], now United Nations World Tourism Organization [UNWTO] and therefore September 27 has become an internationally recognized annual event with the aim to celebrate worldwide the phenomenon that is tourism
The ministry also pointed out in its letter that the plan to honor Atigbi at the commemoration exhibition focused on the theme: 1946-2006-IUOTO-UNWTO-sixty years of institutionalization for World Tourism and Thirty Years Headquartered in Madrid on Wednesday, December 13, 2006, was never fulfilled.
The Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Alhaji Bello Gada, however, expressed his willingness to ensure that as Ghana hosts this year’s World Tourism Day commemoration, which incidentally is the 30th anniversary with a theme-Celebrating Diversity, be used by the UNWTO to fulfill its promise to late Ignatius Amaduwa Atigbi and Nigeria.
So, on September 27, 2009 at the International Conference Centre, Accra, Ghana, in a demonstration of respect and fair play, the UNWTO, led by the secretary general Taleb Rifai, presented a plague acknowledging Nigeria’s late Atigbi as the architect of World Tourism Day [WTD] celebrations.
Receiving the award, Nigeria’s Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Senator Bello Gada who was represented by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Alhaji Sheidu Ozigin, OON MNI, said this recognition was the climax of Nigeria’s contributions to global tourism and hinted that Nigeria will celebrate the recognition.
The Nigeria team, largest to the international world tourism day celebrations in Ghana could not hide their emotions for the recognition. Speaking, Mr. John Likita Best, a well-known tourism agitator from Plateau State of Nigeria said Atigbi’s recognition is a wake up call for everyone who has anything to contribute to local or international tourism.