Gathering For a Rescue Mission
One situation that unfortunately has remained definitive of the human experience in the past three years, and which stimulates a concert of responses, is the outbreak and onslaught of the coronavirus, that has negatively impacted our conditions of living, well-being and the economy of nations.
It is without doubt that tourism was one of the sectors greatly disrupted in the wake of the COVID-19 advance, with adverse consequences for livelihoods, jobs, and the general global economy, seeing to a huge erosion of over 80 per cent of value across a chain of related industries – from travel to hospitality, fashion, and others.
Yet, it is a testimony to the human capacity to heal, and resilience, that the world has equally been on a positive trajectory of recovery in more than a year. This has led to major efforts being made to recoup lost grounds and create new value that drives sturdier economic growth, while motivating the demand that reflates fiscal activities, thereby resuscitating and expanding the jobs and income pool, etc.
A significant aspect of the bouquet of responses that have been recognised as capable of deepening the ongoing exertions at recovery has been the identification of the vast capabilities of the Creative and Cultural Industries (CCI) and the huge promise they hold. This had earlier led to the declaration of 2021 as the International Year of the Creative Economy for Sustainable Development by the 74th General Assembly of the United Nations.
Certainly, the creative and cultural industries and tourism belong to an analogous native space, in which they are interdependent, and with each feeding on the energies of the other. As the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) put it, in this bold strides towards recovery, the “creative economy and creative industries could be part of the solution. They offer an immense potential for growth, innovation and product diversification within the tourism ecosystem.”
To further explore the potentials of the CCI, which are yet to be fully mined to the extent of their capabilities and promise, most of the key actors and stakeholders within the tourism ecosystem from across many notable parts of the world have agreed to converge in Nigeria for a thought-fest on how to take the present recovery to a deeper and more sustainable level.
The Nigerian Federal Ministry of Information and Culture and United Nations World Tourism Organisation are organising a joint conference on “Linking Tourism, Culture and Creative Industries: Pathways to Recovery and Inclusive Development” to hold in Lagos from November 14 to 16, 2022. This conference will build on the UNWTO and UNESCO joint proclamations, with emphasis on the Kyoto Declaration on Tourism and Culture advocating for greater linkages between tourism, cultures and the creative industries, as a way of engaging with the current challenges that the world faces in the numerous endeavours at economic recovery.
Crucial to its objectives, the conference will consider and outline the various dimensions of the potentials of the creative industries, how these can inspire business opportunities, enhance the offerings and products of cultural tourism, while equally promoting inclusion by assisting traditionally marginalised groups with entrepreneurial skills.
Also, the gathering will deliberate on how to enable collaboration across destinations, communities, academia and the private sector, as a way of improving training on the creative industries and cultural heritage.
While a vital motivation for tourism and the various local and trans-continental pilgrimages around it is the desire to witness cultural experiences across different places and spaces, one can easily identify the unique trend-setting location of Nigeria and its cultural industry from the recent infectious enthusiasm of the Culture minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed. In his declaration, “The Whiz Kid of this world, the Burna Boy, Davido and Tiwa Savage have really shown the world that Nigeria is a hub of the creative industry.”
Hence for the Honourable Minister, as the country’s prime public policy lead in the cultural sector, “hosting this conference is an affirmation of Nigeria’s huge contributions to the creative industry and the recognition that Nigeria is the hub of the creative industry in Africa.”
More so, in the work that we have done in the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), which I have led in over half a decade, we have given critical support to the country’s creative and culture industry assets, of whose virility and forward looking prominence, testimonies abound. Our music, film, art, dance, fashion, cuisine and festivals are all game-changers that accentuate the desire to witness and experience Nigeria, as such the creative sector and tourism have always been intimately engaged, and they affirm each other.
The return and unique numbers of visits generated from interest – as shown across many digital platforms that promote Nigeria – reveal the great attention that the country’s culture-driven tourism has been engendering. And, our programming around domestic tourism continues to be affirmed, as expressed in the Tour Nigeria brand, which is posed to strongly complement international recovery efforts, by stimulating demand locally in a way that grows the confidence to inspire Nigerian destination marketing internationally.
We are, therefore, thankful for the leadership of the Ministry of Culture and Information, alongside the UNWTO, in convoking this very timely gathering for thinking through much of the issues set to make the world economic recovery more enduring, by enabling the creative and culture industries as a crucial anchor.
Nigeria’s Culture and Creative Industry Ecosystem
Globally, the culture and creative industries constitute some of the huge drivers of economic activity that can be further purposed as greater stimuli for economic recovery. This is evident from their documented impact, seeing to the generation of an annual compound value of close to $2.3 trillion, as representation of 3 per cent of the world’s GDP, according to UNWTO estimates. Moreover, about 40 per cent of international tourists are observed as “motivated primarily by culture-related experiences” for embarking on destinations.
It is quite safe to project that the culture and creative industries could become significant catalysts of recovery and growth in a resurgent global economy, steadily coming out of the negative impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. This is not far-fetched with the strengthening of demand for tourism, hospitality and other related industries, as the world decisively breaks out of the pall of fear induced by an increasingly subdued pathogen.
Prior to the offensive of the coronavirus and the unfortunate disruptions that it occasioned, as recently as 2018 tourism accounted for close to 7 per cent of world trade, over $8.9 trillion of the world’s total GDP, and more than 300 million direct and associated jobs globally. In Nigeria, some estimates put the entire spectrum of the tourism value chain as constituting as much as 30 per cent of the GDP and 20 per cent of jobs. Quite unfortunately, close to 80 per cent of all these was eroded in the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.
The creative and culture industries in Nigeria are an extended composite of a number of interconnected and linked sectors, cutting through a sizeable gamut of economic activities, and responsible for between 10 and 15 million jobs, from music to design, fashion, film, television, radio, photography, architecture, printing and performance arts. Also, hotel and hospitality, publishing, Information Technology, gaming, software development, advertising and digital marketing, etc.
Being the largest employer of labour besides the agriculture sector, the culture and creative industries have been some of the priority sectors earmarked for intensive development in the Federal Government’s stimulus strategy, as laid out in the Economic Renewal and Growth Plan (ERGP). And, in desegregating the vast and unfolding potentials of Nigeria’s tourism, culture and creative industries before the coming of the pandemic, the hospitality, events and tourism sector had a cumulative revenue of about N1.2 trillion annually, with the travel and tourism sub-sector accounting for 1.9 per cent of the country’s total GDP in 2017, alongside four million direct jobs across some 10,000 MSMEs.
In addition, while the component sector of film-making had a yearly revenue of N140 billion, involved more than 250,000 businesses and saw to over 500,000 direct jobs, the music industry generated about N300 billion annually from the activities of some 5,000 businesses. Advertising, radio and television yielded turnovers in excess of N500 billion per year, from more than 10,000 businesses, engaging over 500,000 people directly, whereas the writing, printing and publishing industry witnessed annual revenues of about N1 trillion from 3,000 businesses and 15,000 active practitioners. For comedy, dance and the performing arts, this sub-sector earned about N17 billion in 2018, due to the efforts of over 6,000 companies and practitioners.
Tourism, the Creative Industries and Sustainable Recovery
With many of these constituents having undergone massive erosion before the recent rebound, the November conference would create a fundamental opportunity for conversation across policy makers and industry experts, with the benefit of global comparative experience, to enable the basis for leapfrogging economic recovery through the tourism and creative sectors. As described by UNWTO, the vast potentials of these industries “to stimulate social entrepreneurship and MSMEs, empower communities, enhance competitiveness and help local economies bounce back better, still remains unexploited.” As such, addressing this gap is fundamental to the design of the conference.
While the intent of the high-level conference is to bring researchers and experts together to consider the linkages and opportunities across tourism, culture and the creative industries, and offer an opportunity for industry actors to network, it would equally provide a platform for the exchange of information and ideas on the key resources of these contiguous industries. Investment avenues will be identified and innovative policies will be promoted, alongside global best practices of the industries.
It is hoped that at the end of the November conference in Lagos, there would be strategic guidelines on the link across the three primary industries, the leveraging of identified synergies to maximise the benefits of the event, coupled with key recommendations on the way forward for a globally sustainable economic growth and recovery.
Chief Folorunsho Coker, the Baba Eto of Yorubaland and Director General of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation, is the chief marketer of Nigerian destination.