A tourism development expert, Mr Wale Akinboboye, on Friday called for creativity in grooming Nigeria’s tourism industry for a greater impact.
Akinboboye, the President of the La Campagne Tropicana, said in Lagos that Nigeria would gain much from harnessing its creative and tourism endowments.
He made the call at a Tourism Roundtable as part of the Third Edition of the Nigeria Travel Week with the theme: “Harnessing the Creative and Tourism Potential of the Culture-Rich Destinations in Nigeria”.
“Creative tourism means that we have to create authentic, original African concept, because when people travel to a continent, they have come to see the continent.
“They have come to see the beauty of the continent, not a cheap imitation of where they are coming from.
“Tourism development is a journey, in order for us to begin the process of adding value to the continent and creating a platform, we must begin with creativity,” he said.
According to him, the entire world is waiting on Africa.
“It is Africa’s time. As we wear their clothes, they should wear ours.
“We have to grow the local. It is important to harvest what is on the continent of Africa and bring it to the world..“Let us begin to leverage on our culture and our strength.
“We must begin by taking advantage of our advantage in order for us to have an advantage.
” Nigerians should be creative in grooming the nation’s tourism industry. We have to be creative so that we do not do it the way others are doing it,” he advised.
According to Akinboboye who has been in tourism development for decades, Nigeria and other African countries have a lot to offer the world, including a rich deposit of minerals.
Mr Efetobo Awhana, Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Nigeria Travel Week, said that Nigeria already had a large number of business tourists, but the challenge had been how to convert them to leisure tourists.
Awhana said that some of Nigeria’s coastlines, waterfalls, rich cultures, cuisine, fashion were wasting.
“Why are we wasting away our coastlines, our waterfalls, our rich cultures, cuisine, fashion and all?.
“How about our goodwill from Nollywood and music, both loved around the world?” he asked.
According to Awhana, If only 20 per cent of the Nigerian population should travel and holiday more in Nigeria, the multiplier effect on the host communities and livelihoods would be astounding.
“This would mean countless new jobs, less crimes and delinquency, stronger national ties, and millions of turbo-charged African ambassadors,” he said.
Dr Adun Okupe, CEO at Red Clay Advisory, said that Nigeria was missing out in huge tourism receipts by focusing on a narrow spectrum of the global multi-billion dollar industry.
“It is time to have more action-led strategies, provide an overview of the industry and the vast job opportunities attached to it.
“We have to focus on multiple forms of tourism for all the identified destinations and attractions so that people can engage in all sorts of creative experiences while participating in the local culture.
“We have to use what we have to get what we want,” she said
Sharing her experiences as a volunteer with the Nigeria Field Society, Okupe said that being a participant tourist in Dubai, Spain and Italy, learning local dance steps, wine and pasta-making helped her to connect with these countries in special ways.
She said that Nigeria needed to move toward selling more participation.
“This is important because it enhances the appeal of the destination.
” As a tourist, when you are asked to participate in local experiences, you feel more connected to that destination.”
Okupe said that one of Nigeria’s most promising tourism products is its culture.
“Nigeria’s culture is very beautiful and powerful.
“We do not have to wait for the world to validate what we have or what we are trying to do here.
“We need to, first, appreciate what our culture is and how we can adapt it to our environment.
“Before we even start harnessing, we need to know what those potential are, appreciate them, before selling them to other people.”
Okupe noted that there were more tour operators in Nigeria.
“The number has grown by 30 per cent over the last couple of years, and that has been because of the recession.”
Prof. Bruce Onabrakpeya, a renowned artist, said that practitioners should look more creative arts.
“Help to create heroes out of younger artists, pay attention to monuments and visual arts.
“They will play a very important role in the area of creative tourism development.” he said.
Jermaine Sanwo-Olu, Lagos State Gov. sanwo-Olu’s Senior Special Assistant on Diaspora and Foreign Relations, urged Lagos residents to believe in his administration and tap into the cultural and tourism opportunities in Lagos and Nigeria.
“There are certain opportunities that exist not only from the diaspora but also for you, residents in Lagos and Nigeria, that you could tap into in order to maximise the opportunity that is here.
He gave the assurance that the governor was committed to ensuring that “life in this beautiful city of Atlantic splendour, the centre of excellence and a place flowing with milk and honey”, is full of opportunities.
“Lagos is a place that you need to break grounds to see the beauty and productivity in the rich soil that we have, so that your seeds of ideas and dreams can actually blossom on day,” he said said.