Africa: Bankable partnerships and Nigeria’s tourism potential
The riches and diversity of Nigeria’s culture has always been considered as strong reason why tourism is bankable and should be a primary foreign exchange earner for the country. The country is naturally endowed with rich tourist sites across all geopolitical zones.
Nigeria, with a population of about 180 million people, covering about 923,768 sq.km of landmass, wholly within the tropics, is described as the ‘Giant of Africa’ and richly endowed with ecological and cultural resources, that are universally recognised.
However, the big question is, how much of these opportunities in its art and culture have been fully developed to attract tourists (locally and internationally), as well as earn revenue. As at 2016, direct contribution of Travel and Tourism to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was N1.86 trillion (1.7 per cent of GDP), but forecast to rise by 1.1 per cent to N1.88 trillion in 2017. But the figures presented in the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) 2017 report are proof that not so much contribution from the sector has reflected on the economy.
In the last 10 months, no significant direct contribution from Travel and Tourism to the country’s GDP has been recorded. For instance, its contribution to the whole economy’s GDP remains at 1.7 per cent, same as it was in 2016. A review of tourism’s impact on the country’s GDP in the last 10 years (2007 – 2017) showed that its impact was at all-time high in 2008, having contributed 2.4 per cent to the GDP. Since 2008, its impact has been fluctuating between 1.8 per cent and 1.5 per cent.
The sector, expected to be one of the growing and high earning sector in the country, was accorded priority status in 1990 when the National Tourism Policy was launched. The main thrust of Government policy on tourism was to generate foreign exchange earnings, create employment opportunities, promote rural enterprises and national integration, among other things.
Given the plethora of opportunities provided by tourism, it is surprising that the industry has not received adequate attention in the developing countries where most of the natural tourist sites are domiciled, especially in Nigeria.Of course, more must be done to market this massive and profitable industry. This is because the country is yet to tap its full potentials.
One of Nigeria’s fast growing lenders- Heritage Bank, through its strategic partnerships with government and private organisations has continued to make investments’ foray into the country’s tourism sector in pursuit of a destination status in Africa, as well as the lever for economic growth and development.
For the bank’s giant strides to support tourism, the Federal Government gave commendations for its commitment to the development and growth of the creative industry, in a message by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed at a two-day Creative Nigeria Summit.The bank had taken up a sponsorship of exhibition at the National Museum Benin, at the Exhibition Gallery of National Museum Benin by the National Commission for Museums and Monuments, in collaboration with the Edo State Government, and the Smithsonian Institute, United States of America.
Also, Heritage Bank Plc partnered with the organizers of the International Festival of Contemporary Dance (IFCOD) to host the second edition of One Language, a musical production of intrigue, dance and drama.But most prominent of its partnership and supports is the yearly Calabar Carnival and Festival, tagged: “Africa’s Biggest Street Party,” created as part of the vision of making Cross River State the number one tourist destination in Nigeria and across the world.
Since its debut in 2004 by a former Governor of the state, Donald Duke, the theme of the yearly event has continued to change, with the 2017 edition tagged: “mMigration and Climate Change.”
The theme was chosen against the backdrop that Africa has always been known for migration and it has been the home of many cultures for many centuries. Presently, the world recognizes it as the new frontier, not to be exploited for the benefits of others but to be cultivated on its own. This theme resonates with the greenhouse effect which is the corporate identity of Heritage Bank, a development which encourages it to partner with Segaull Band, one of the entertainers that participated in the carnival.
The MD/CEO of Heritage Bank, Ifie Sekibo, said the theme of the carnival this year’s event much to do with green, green-house effect and sustainability, protection and human development.“As far as this is concerned, the bank will continue to support initiatives that have to do with sustainability,” adding that migration is a depletion of human resources, depletion of values and depletion of human capital.
“We are here as an institution to help to facilitate and to create awareness that the grass is not as greener on the other side. We can develop ourselves, build our nation and the continent and sustain it, if we do the right things like planting trees, keeping our environment clean, disposing our wastes properly and living a good life.”
Represented by the Acting Managing Director, Jude Monye, he was accompanied by a team from the bank- Mr. Godwin Ukwat, Regional Head, South South; Mr. Archibong Etim, Team Lead Commercial, Calabar; Mrs. Queen Essien, Team Lead, SME; Mrs. Obo Offiong, Experience Centre Manager, Calabar, Mrs. Rita Ihunna, Team Member, Commercial, Head office, Lagos and Mr. Blaise Udunze, Media Relations Officer.
Cross-River State Governor, Mr. Ben Ayade, tasks the bands to interpret the theme of the event, “Migration”, for the youths to see the need to remain in Africa and develop the continent.“Our theme for this year should caution our youths about the tedious journey through the Mediterranean Sea and Sahara Desert to Europe in search of greener pasture.
“How can a continent like Africa that is blessed with abundant natural and human resources be poor? Africans are intellectually sound. We commend the initiative of Heritage Bank for supporting efforts to create awareness about the negative effects of migration and climate change and enjoin other corporate organisations to lend their voices,” he said.
The Seagull Band, one of the carnival bands registered in 2005 for the Cross-River State yearly Christmas festival, is known for its stylish and coordination, with the main objective of promoting and sustaining the tourism and hospitality industry and enhance the status of the under privilege through charity. It displays African culture through aesthetics, talents and innovation, paraded yearly during the carnival.
The band is under the leadership of Senator (Princess) Florence Ita-Giwa, a vibrant activist and a fighter for the people of Bakassi Peninsula. She’s also a former senator who represented Cross River State Southern District at the National Assembly and a former Legislative Adviser to late Nigerian President Musa Yar’adua.
According to her, the relevance of theme to recent and trending ignoble migrant journey and the attendant menace is no less efficacious as it has brought the subtlety and complexities that characterise the infamous movement of people from less attractive zone to a more attractive one.She said the 2017 Seagull Band interpretation takes a prismatic view of the forms of migration and causal factors of human migration.
“The epicenter of this interpretation are the two major forms of migration- the 18th century infamous/involuntary yet monumental slave trade and the modern day voluntary slavery/trafficking of vulnerable persons.