Olympics: While Nigeria House flops in Brazil Jamaica nets 20,000 visitors

By IKECHI Uko

The Rio Olympics left Nigeria limping home with only the “Golden” Bronze won by the football team. That wasn’t the only loss suffered by Nigeria in Rio. While Jamaica was smiling home with a truckload of Gold medals from the tracks it seems it also won the tourism Gold medal too.

The idea of a Nigeria village was promoted by The Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation NTDC at the World Cup in South Africa 2010. It was partially successful and it was believed that the next event will see a better outing. It wasn’t to be so as the Nigeria village at the Word Cup in Brazil in 2014 organized by same NTDC under a different leadership ended in a scandal that hasn’t ended. So it wasn’t surprising that the attempt this time at Rio was dismal.

Meanwhile Over 20,000 visitors packed into Jamaica House 2016 during the staging of the recently concluded Olympics in Rio de Janiero, Brazil. The cultural hub for all things Jamaican hosted at the Prado Jockey Club in Gávea, Rio, was the place to be for fans, athletes, dignitaries, celebrities and international media. This was in a report published by eTurboNews

But according the Nigerian Guardian Newspaper there was no Nigerian House seen anywhere in Rio.

“It was supposed to be the hub of Nigeria’s cultural and commercial activities at the on-going Rio 2016 Olympic Games. The Nigeria House was launched by the former Director General of the defunct National Sports Commission (NSC), Alhassan Yakmut, with the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) Secretary General, Tunde Popoola, as its inaugural chairman. It was, among others, charged with promoting and showcasing Nigeria’s culture at the games.

When Solomon Dalung became minister in 2015, he dissolved the Popoola-led board and set up a new one with Mohammed B. Abdullahi as its new project coordinator. Bappa Missau was named as the NOC representative in the new committee.

Shortly before the beginning of the Rio Olympics, the members of the Nigeria House sent out a statement celebrating the launch of the project’s theme song said to be written by John Wakawa. Entitled ‘Going For Gold,’ the song was described by Project Coordinator and Chief Executive Officer of Nigeria Hospitality Project in Rio, Mohammed Abdullahi, as capable of enhancing the message of the Nigerian House. “We do not have proper jurisdiction for the games but as a hospitality house the theme song/video will be played in the Nigeria House in Rio as part of our support for Team Nigeria in an effort to further sensitise and mobilize support for Team Nigeria in Rio,” he said in a statement sent to journalists.

However, there are discordant tunes over the existence of the Nigerian House. Indications are that the project does not exist. According to a senior staff of the Ministry of Sports, who pleaded anonymity, the House only exists on paper.” While Nigerians lament their woes it was celebration time for Jamaica.

“With Jamaica House as the centerpiece of its Olympics strategy, the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) created a robust public and social media programme to promote the destination.
For its efforts over 1.8 billion media impressions were amassed globally for Jamaica House including features on international broadcast stations such as BBC, CNN and MSNBC as well as popular Brazilian stations like Globo Television. Additionally, approximately 10 million people viewed, clicked, shared and engaged with posts through the JTB’s social media channels, tagging posts with #ReggaeRocksBrazil, the official Jamaica House hashtag.

In addition to media, the JTB also leveraged Jamaica House to network with local tour operators, travel agent and airline partners. More than 180 travel agents were welcomed through the hospitality hub providing them with a taste of the cuisine and culture to be experienced by clients when they visit Jamaica.

“Not only was Jamaica a tremendous success in the world’s premier sporting arena, but Jamaica House was truly the place to be in Rio as thousands of visitors lined up each day to experience Destination Jamaica,” said Paul Pennicook, Jamaica’s Director of Tourism. “In fact, according to UK-based travel agency Travel Republic, searches for Jamaica spiked dramatically during the games as bookings rose by 170%.”

Once again Jamaica trumps all with its wonderful outing on the track and outside Nigerians are sharing blames over who is responsible. A Nigerian Goverment official said: “the Nigeria House Project, as conceptualized by our former director general, would have been the centre of all commercial and cultural activities here in Rio. “Billions of naira was collected from the private sector and the Federal Government for the project, but the new managers could not actualize the project because they did not share the same vision with the initiators. “I cannot say why the new managers continued advertising the project when it had already been botched, but I am sure the permanent secretary, Mr. Christian Ohaa, will be in a better position to answer your questions.”

Meanwhile according to Mr Pennicook, the JTB will build on the momentum from Jamaica House and is already working with partners to increase airlift from Brazil and the region.
The Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) and its sponsors Red Stripe, Appleton, Sandals Resorts International and Digicel, in partnership with Downsound Records, arranged a host of activities each day to capitalize on the excitement and showcase all that Jamaica has to offer, including destination presentations, consumer promotions, dance classes, and music by resident deejay, DJ Narity. Jamaica House featured nightly entertainment by top Jamaican reggae artistes including, I-Octane, Nature, Luciano and Ky-Mani Marley. Sandals Resorts’ senior group executive chef, Glenroy Walker, also provided mouthwatering Jamaican cuisine.

With reports from Guardian.ng and eTurboNews

 

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