I dare say, tourism is serious business!, By Folorunsho Coker

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We are on the upswing of the emergence of a greater Nigeria, and for this collaborative effort, I dare to say that tourism is a business. We must grow the Nigerian tourism industry using traditional, cultural, and creative assets with technology. We must strive to implement several policies and methods to achieve this goal.

Developing Crucial Infrastructure
Improve transportation infrastructure, including airports, roads, and public transportation, to facilitate easier access for tourists.

Enhance and expand existing accommodation options, such as hotels, resorts, and guesthouses, to cater to the growing number of tourists.

Promoting Film Tourism
We can establish film commissions and incentivise international filmmakers to shoot their movies in Nigeria. This will showcase Nigerian landscapes, landmarks, and culture, thereby attracting film tourists.

We should organise film festivals and events that celebrate Nigerian cinema and invite international filmmakers and industry professionals to participate. Artificial intelligence is already creating the whole value chain. We must deepen a co-existence in film.

Expanding Nigeria’s Music Tourism
Our music is homeless. Let us give our music a home like the O2 arena or Madison Square Gardens. Let people see our music in our home. Let’s support and promote Nigerian music artists and organise music festivals and concerts showcasing Nigerian music genres such as Afrobeat, Highlife, Juju, and Afro-pop.

Let’s develop music museums and cultural centres to preserve and exhibit Nigeria’s rich musical heritage. Afrobeats is worth $1 trillion annually globally.

Showcasing Fashion Tourism

Why are we waiting to be validated by a world industry that copies us? We must organise fashion weeks and events highlighting Nigerian fashion designers, showcasing their creativity and cultural influences. We need to establish fashion hubs and incubators to nurture local talent and attract international designers and fashion enthusiasts.

We need joint country marketing campaigns, domestically and internationally, to promote Nigeria’s tourism assets, while focusing on the creative sectors. There should be collaborations with international travel agencies and tour operators to create attractive travel packages that highlight Nigeria’s creative assets… Social media platforms and influencers should be leveraged to showcase Nigeria’s unique cultural offerings and appeal to a broader audience.

Boosting Culinary Tourism
There is a need to promote Nigerian cuisines by organising food festivals, culinary tours, and cooking workshops to introduce tourists to traditional dishes and Nigerian flavours. We should support local restaurants and street food vendors by providing training, certification, and hygiene standards to enhance tourists’ culinary experience.

Technology Integration in Tourism
We have to utilise ArtIntel technology to enhance the overall tourist experience, such as providing personalised recommendations, virtual tours, and interactive guides. Also, there is the necessity of developing AI-powered language translation tools to overcome language barriers and facilitate communication between tourists and locals.

AI should be used for data analysis and predictive modelling to identify tourism trends, target marketing efforts, and improve resource allocation.

Digital Marketing and Promotion of Cultural Expression Mediums

We need joint country marketing campaigns, domestically and internationally, to promote Nigeria’s tourism assets, while focusing on the creative sectors. There should be collaborations with international travel agencies and tour operators to create attractive travel packages that highlight Nigeria’s creative assets.

Social media platforms and influencers should be leveraged to showcase Nigeria’s unique cultural offerings and appeal to a broader audience.

Human Capital Development and Appropriate Vocational Training

It is not just about increasing non-producing pure academic degrees, we should invest in training programmes and educational initiatives to develop skilled professionals in the tourism and creative sectors, including tour guides, hospitality ecosystem staff, filmmakers, musicians, fashion designers, and culinary experts.

Collaboration and Partnerships or Good Practice Copycatting

We should foster collaborations between the government, private sector, and relevant industry stakeholders to jointly promote and develop Nigeria’s tourism industry. Also, we have to seek partnerships with international organisations and institutions to exchange knowledge, expertise, and investments in the creative sectors.

We must establish a dedicated tourism ministry to relocate NTDA outside of the Ministry of Information. The focus must be on the tourism industry’s development and promotion. This ministry should have the authority and resources to implement and monitor the proposed policies and methods effectively. Government propaganda and destination marketing are not the same. Tourism, Arts, and Culture should be one. One voice. One mission.

Sustainable Tourism Practices in line with the SDGs

We can implement sustainable tourism practices to preserve Nigeria’s natural and cultural heritage, including waste management, conservation efforts, and community engagement. COVID-19 has shown how vulnerable tourism is to global shocks. We must domesticate and shockproof Nigerian tourism.

We can prioritise improving safety and security measures to ensure the safety of tourists. This includes increasing the presence of law enforcement agencies, and implementing surveillance systems, especially at points of transportation, hospitality, and entertainment. It also provides digital safety information and resources for tourists.

We must simplify visa processes and ensure simple, transparent, hassle-free tourist entry. This includes implementing electronic visa systems (payment and issuing), reducing visa fees, having more extended tenure visas, new categories of visas, and offering visa-on-arrival options for selected countries. We should also consider visa-free entry for more nations.

Tourism is the reward for a good home. To attract international tourists, improving Nigeria’s global image is crucial. We should actively engage in diplomatic efforts to improve international perceptions of the country and address any negative stereotypes or misconceptions.

We can invest in research and data collection (Tourism Satellite Account) to understand the needs and preferences of tourists better. This will enable us to tailor our policies and marketing strategies to attract the right target audience. It goes without saying that, don’t measure your performance if you don’t want to know your problems.

We must establish a dedicated tourism ministry to relocate NTDA outside of the Ministry of Information. The focus must be on the tourism industry’s development and promotion. This ministry should have the authority and resources to implement and monitor the proposed policies and methods effectively. Government propaganda and destination marketing are not the same. Tourism, Arts, and Culture should be one. One voice. One mission.

It is imperative to note that the successful implementation of these policies and methods requires strong coordination, adequate and timely funding, and long-term commitment from the government, private sector, and local communities. Streamlining government agencies is essential, to avoid overlapping responsibilities and territoriality, and a silo mentality.

Folorunsho Coker is the director general of the Nigerian Tourism Development Authority.

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