The first-ever UNWTO Global Conference on Linking Tourism, Culture and Creative Industries; Pathways to recovery and Inclusive Development has commenced in Lagos, Nigeria with a symposium on innovation and digitalization
The conference has gathered top-notch panelists and stakeholders to discuss linkages and opportunities between cultural tourism and the creative industries.
For the next three days, the event will also offer a unique networking opportunity for industry players, practitioners, government officials and policymakers to debate contemporary and future issues, as well as exchange ideas and information relating to tourism, culture and the creative industry.
In his address to open the symposium today, November 14, UNWTO Secretary General, Zurab Pololikashvili hailed Nigeria’s leading efforts in building a robust creative economy while iterating technology and innovation’s role in driving tourism.
“This country is leading the way in building a vibrant creative economy. We meet in Lagos, one of Africa’s most exciting innovation hubs. Nigeria is also a great example of tourism’s role as a driver of growth and opportunity. The digital transformation of tourism plays a vital role in kickstarting recovery from the impacts of the pandemic. Innovation and technology are shaping the future of our sector.
“We must continue to embrace change. In many cases, change will come from the bottom-up, in the shape of start-ups and entrepreneurs. But it must always be supported from the top, with the economic and political support of governments,” he stated.
Zurab added SMEs are the first line of defense for the global economic recovery. It is for this reason, the Secretary General said the UNWTO Digital Futures Programme was launched.
He posited: “We are giving small enterprises the support they need to scale up and compete on the global stage. We also recognize that good ideas need proper funding. Fostering public-private partnerships and providing countries with tools for mobilizing investments in tourism are core priorities of the UNWTO.
“This is a central piece of the UNWTO Agenda for Africa – Tourism for Inclusive Growth. Our new series of ‘Doing Business Guidelines’ show how we need investment to make a real difference. I am pleased to say that we recently launched an edition focused on Tanzania – and more will follow.”
The World Tourism body Head, maintained that cultural heritage and the creative economy are pillars of the tourism sector, in Africa, and around the world; together, they account for 40% of global tourism revenues.
He therefore insisted that “we need to do more to really fulfil the potential of tourism and culture to drive development and positive change. At the national level, we need policies and joined-up governance. Ministers of Tourism and Ministries of Culture should be working closely together. And at the local level, we need to work directly with residents and local businesses – communities must benefit from tourism.”
Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed also underscoring the significance of the conference said it comes at a time that Nigeria and the world over are seeking for industries that can stimulate socio-economic recovery, alleviate poverty, mitigate the effects of climate change, accelerate job creation and inclusive development and foster international peace and cooperation.
“Within these premises, tourism, culture and the creative industries, therefore, present a huge potential to bridge this gap, especially at a time of great economic challenges the world over.”
The Minister described the event as historic noting that, “Today we are witnessing the making of history in two very important ways. First is the fact that this is the first time the UNWTO would be bringing stakeholders in tourism, culture and the creative industries together at a single forum to deliberate on issues of common interest. Secondly, this is the first event to be held since the completion of phase 1 of the 100-million-dollar renovation of the iconic National Theatre.”
The conference begun with two experts’ workshops on tourism and culture, as well as tourism and the creative industries, accompanied by the symposium on innovation and digitalization.