The Director General for National Arts and Culture, Otunba Segun Runsewe has initiated moves to change the Culture and Tourism narrative with a meeting with Culture and Tourism stakeholders in Abuja.
This is just as stakeholders appealed to both the Federal and State Governments to stem the tide of insecurity in the country as well as provide infrastructure for the power sector, as Culture and Tourism cannot thrive in an unsecured environment and by using generators.
The weekend stakeholders meeting with the title” Re-Branding Culture and Tourism in Africa: The Nigerian Vision” was attended by virtually the ‘Who is who’ in Nigeria Culture and Tourism industry, and they deliberated on many issues and the way forward.
Welcoming stakeholders to the August forum, Runsewe told them that meeting was not for ‘speaking grammar’ but to tell ourselves the truth, the challenges facing the industry and the way forward.
He stated that having traveled to Dubai with his management team to see how the desert country turned tourism into money spinner sector, he and his team concluded that Nigeria can do the same considering the fact the country has nature tourism in abundance.
Runsewe also told the gathering that they marveled at some of the tourism sites visited in Dubai, which includes: Dolphinarium, Miracle Garden, Dubai Global Village and Alserkal Cultural Foundation, old Dubai
Others sites visited by NCAC management team according to Runsewe are: Dubai Mall, Dubai Fountain, Burj al Arab and Burj Khalifafrica.
According to him, “The trip to Dubai was a great opportunity to change our approach to Culture and Tourism in Nigeria. It is the beginning of this big secrete in Africa to be starting from the sight scene of Dolphinarium, Miracle Garden, Dubai Global Village, Alserkal Cultural Foundation, old Dubai and other places visited . It tells the story that this is the sector that will save the economies of many African countries.”
He continued, “I have seen where people have brought out artificial approach to the endeavours of life and turn it to economic strength. Dubai Mall have over 180 restaurants, over 500 car park facilities, a hotel located right in the middle of the sea. To me, this is a call to a new beginning to Africa and Nigeria must take the challenge first. We are people that believe we can do things first and I believe if they can do it in Dubai, we can do it and even better. The time is now as we cannot afford to wait any long.”
The NCAC boss stated that the future generation of this country and posterity would not forgive us if we fail to make amend and effect changes now.
He added that having visited these sites, he and his team concluded that it was time to come to Nigeria, apply and re-brand Nigeria’s cultural tourism.
Some of the stakeholders at the meeting were : the Promoter of Akwaaba Travel Market and Publisher of ATQ, Magazine, Mr Ikechi Uko, President, Federation of Tourism Association of Nigeria (FTAN) Malam Rabo Saleh, National President of the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies(NANTA), Mr Bankole Bernard and Chairman, Board of Trustees,(BOT), National Association of Tour Operators(NATOP), Mr Ukeruem Onung among other culture and tourism gurus.
Most of the stakeholders at the meeting agreed with the NCAC boss that Nigeria and Nigerians should concentrate less on seminars and conferences and that it was time for action, adding that the country and her people have the capacity to do what Dubai did.
The stakeholders enumerated several challenges which includes: insecurity, epileptic power supply, not recognising Culture and Tourism as a standalone ministry, lack of proper understanding of how culture and tourism works and how tourism can be used by both Federal and state governments to generate revenue and unhealthy competition among practitioners among others.
Speaking at the event, the President, Federation of Tourism Association of Nigeria (FTAN) Malam Rabo Saleh, who commended the vision of the NCAC DG for the visit, stated that Nigeria needs infrastructure, adding that “ we cannot have good tourism industry with bad and dilapidated infrastructure.
He also pointed out that security is very essential for culture and Tourism to thrive, stressing that with high insecurity stakeholders would not achieve their aims and objectives.
The FTAN boss called stakeholders to form a think tank to formulate policies that would be used to drive the Nigerian Vision.
On his part, the National President of the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies(NANTA), Mr Bankole Bernard told stakeholders that the first thing to is to clamour for standalone Ministry of Culture and Tourism, contending that the present situation where government merged Tourism with the Ministry of Information was not the best.
According to him, “Tourism is not an industry that should be neglected in view of the fact that it has the potential to be the main stay of the Nigerian economy.”
Every country, he argued needs a visionary leader to driver her vision, urging the NCAC DG to drive the “Re- Branding of Culture and Tourism in Africa: The Nigerian Vision”, assuring that he would support the project.
In his words, “Government merged Tourism with Information Ministry because it does not know the potential of the industry.”
He suggested that stakeholders should write an open letter to the President Muhammadu Buhari on the matter.
Also speaking, the Chairman, Board of Trustees,(BOT), National Association of Tour Operators(NATOP), Mr Ukeruem Onung , who also commended the efforts of Runsewe and his management team, pointed out that one of the challenges the tourism has is that everybody behaves like experts.
Onung said that Nigeria must have something she wants to show case to outside world before inviting, adding that tourism is all about come and see.
He called on stakeholders to define their value chain and interest, adding that there should be advocacy that must be carried out step by step.