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UNWTO links tourism and culture in Nigeria

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By Timothy Akintola

Fortunes of tourism and culture closely linked that they influence one another.

Culture and tourism constitute one of the biggest sectors contributing to the development of Nigeria’s Economy. Nigeria is one of the countries with a very rich cultural and tourism sector and if properly harnessed and managed, the sector is posed to immensely improve the workforce development goals in the country, whilst also providing a platform for the preservation of the sociocultural heritage. With the ample number of ethnic groups in the country, there is an imminent desire to position culture and tourism as one of the most significant industries for Nigeria’s Economic Growth and development.

With Nigeria’s efforts in curbing its current economic recession, there has been numerous calls for the country to play a significant role in the development of African tourism by its diversification from oil to the exploration of tourism and culture. Offering a wide scope of tourist attractions that ranges from wildlife, tropical forests and waterfalls. Also, hand-crafted art and products, as well as the differing lifestyles of the different ethnic groups make up an important part of tourist attractions.

Organization led the charge towards connecting tourism and culture.

The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) held its first global conference on connecting culture, tourism and the creative industry in Lagos. This conference showcased a celebration of the close links between these major sectors. Statistics show that about 40 percent of all tourists indicate culture as the major motivation for their travels. As such, UNWTO has led the charge as regards further connecting these two sectors through strategic partnerships with affiliate members like Netflix.

Secretary-General, Zurab Pololikashvili, whilst opening the event, noted to the numerous country delegates present at the event that the fortunes of tourism of culture was closely linked and thus, one thriving sector will always influence the other. He then urged the private and public sectors to work collaboratively in creating decent jobs, grow their investments, develop the country’s Economy and promote digital transformation and Innovation in the sectors.

Nigeria’s need for diversification led to prioritizing tourism.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, representing Nigeria, indicated that the country’s passion for diversifying its economy and exploring other sustainable sectors for Revenue has led the country into prioritizing tourism, culture and the creative industry. Tourism for one, was recognized for its intense resilience and dynamism. Prof. Osinbajo also highlighted the essence of music in bringing people from different cultures together, serving as a global language for the propagation of different cultures and ideas.

Lai Mohammed, Nigeria’s Minister for Tourism also stated that tourism and the creative industry, due to their economic viability, were enjoying a global spotlight, with their places at the forefront of the national and international development plan. Also, UNWTO’s Secretary-General, Nigeria’s Minister of Tourism and Prof. Yemi Osinbajo met with Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu to explore paradigms by which culture and tourism could be harnessed into creating jobs and improving inclusive development nationally and internationally.

UNWTO also celebrated the richness of the African gastronomy.

This conference focused on the numerous key strategic objectives of UNWTO, especially youth Empowerment and immense tourism Investment. Also in Lagos, there was a panel discussion on the need to stimulate the creative industry. On the backdrop of the event, UNTWO also celebrated the huge richness of the African gastronomy, regarding it as a growing force within Africa’s tourism sector. An exhibition, “Flavors of the World” took place, showcasing the extraordinary culinary talents. A local culinary chef, Coco Reinarhz joined the discussion about the potential of gastronomy tourism to support inclusive and sustainable Economic Development.


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