By Friday Nwosu
With the dwindling oil price globally and the continued fall of the naira, the National Council for Arts and Culture, NCAC, is set to inject additional six(6) specialized festivals into Nigeria’s range of cultural festivals in a bid to woo more tourists into the country and contribute to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The country blessed with so many cultural festivals that could attract tourists into it and could provide foreign exchange for her, is yet to tap into potentials in the tourism sector.
Mrs Dayo Keshi, Director General, National Council for Arts and Culture, said that with the fall in oil price and the government’s plan of diversifying the economy the tourism industry provides a viable alternative that could be explored by the Federal Government.
Speaking at the Destination Nigeria Conference 2016, organized by the Nigeria Association of Tour Operators, NATOP, in Calabar, with the theme: “Nigeria Tourism: The Missing Link in a Diversified Economy”, she affirmed that the sector like any other sector in the country needs support, investment, infrastructure, and the conducive environment to grow and develop.
Mrs Keshi who spoke on the topic: “The Role of Creative Industry in the Development and Promotion of Nigeria Tourism” said the NCAC functions include but not limited to the creation of skill acquisition centers, vocational centers and craft clusters, including packaging and promotion of festivals towards developing Nigeria’s creative industries is adding the new festivals in fulfillment of the core mandate of NCAC.
The new festivals according to the DG, include: the National Durbar Festival, the National Boat Regatta, the National Masquerade, the National Festival of Nigeria Contemporary Arts, the National Folk Songs Festival and Traditional Textile and Fashion fair.
She stated that “The rationale for these are obvious or should be clear. First, it is in fulfillment of the core mandate of NCAC, which is the coordination, development and promotion of the living arts and culture of Nigeria. Secondly, festivals are today recognized as one of the fastest growing form of tourism and a number of countries continue to effectively utilize their festivals to attract tourists to their countries. This is so because, cultural festivals are basic ingredients that animate and promote tourism. Culturally, festivals enrich cultural experiences and develop support and audiences for culture. They engage with many arts forms, including discovering new ones, styles and genres and help to promote the cultural and creative industries.”
“It’s social impact includes intangible things that cannot be quantified financially or with economic impact while preserving the heritage and strengthening local values and traditions as well as local community pride. They promote cultural diversity and community cohesion. It is festivals economic impact that has increased its potential and interest at all levels. Besides, it’s potential to create jobs, generate wealth and revenue, promote tourism; it increases knowledge of the country, state or region and possibilities for investment. It drives the construction of new facilities and improves on local infrastructure.”
“The Brazilian Carnival, one of the most glamourous and spectacular festival in the world began last Sunday in both Rio de Janeiro and Sa Paulo. Despite the global concern for the Zika decease, caused by Brazilian Mosquitos and which spread across Latin America, over a million visitors are in Brazil to take part in the carnivals. During the festival period, about 250,000 jobs are created and Brazil earns about$2.3billion from its carnivals.”
“You have all heard and some of you may have visited Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland and the second most populous city in Scotland with a population estimated at 492,680(2014). Beyond its reputation as a centre of education particularly in medicine, science, law and literature, Edinburgh is also famous for the Edinburgh International Festival and the Fringe which is the largest annual international arts festival in the world. With a total of twelve (12) festivals annually, the city’s historical and cultural attractions have made it the second most popular tourist destination in the United Kingdom after London attracting over one million overseas visitors annually. Collectively, the 12 festivals generate £170 million for the city and £184million for the Scottish economy.”
She said the proposed new festivals will not only complement and enhance (National Festival of Arts and Culture) NAFEST, the International Arts and Craft Expo (AFAC), but all other existing mini and upcoming festivals like the Calabar Carnival, the Ofala Festival of Onitsha, the Osun-Oshogbo Festival, in Osun, the Ojude Oba in Ogun state, the Eyo and lgue Festivals as well as Riverfest, in River State but would in due course, upgrade Nigeria as a tourist destination like Edinburgh which annually, organizes twelve festivals, attracting over one million visitors.
She said: “For a nation with such a large population and diverse culture like ours, having as many festivals is in no way superfluous. With time and the value-chain in place, what the nation stands to gain on festivals alone in a year will be enormous especially in terms of local and international visitors with their spending powers.”