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Economic potentials of tourism and creative industry in Nigeria

Economic potentials of tourism and creative industry in Nigeria

The growth of the economy post-COVID-19 is a vital policy focus for the government and policy planners. Diversifying the economy from oil and gas to other sectors can drive sustainable growth, increase revenue sources and create job opportunities for youths have been the top agenda for successive governments in Nigeria.

The unique and multi-cultural structure of Nigeria even before independence in 1960 avails us of the rich cultural and tourism potentials that can drive growth if properly harnessed and sustainably developed. Nigeria with over 250 ethnic groups with diverse cultures, languages, arts and unique environmental endowment by nature implies that each ethnic group can leverage areas of their comparative creative and tourism advantage to grow their local economy.

Experts are critical of the neglect of the tourism and creative industry in Nigeria despite the huge potentials that are left untapped with the government and private sector’s lack of support as a major concern impeding their development.

There are a good number of tourist sites in Nigeria. Notably are Obudu Mountain Resort, Agbokim Waterfall, Tinapa Business Resort, Alom Ikom Monoliths (Cross River state), Ibeno Beach (Akwa Ibom state) Yankari Game Reserve (Bauchi state), Lekki Conservation Centre, Oniru Beach, Tarkwa Bay Beach, Elegushi Beach, Badagry Coconut Beach, Eleko Beach, New Afrika Shrine, New World Africana, Nike Art Gallery (Lagos State), Awhum Waterfall, Ngwo Pine Forest, Ogbunike Caves (Enugu state), Shiroro Water Fall (Niger State), Oke-Idanre Hills (Ondo state), Surame Cultural Landscape (Sokoto state), Queen Amina Walls, (Kaduna State), Sukur Landscape (Adamawa State), Osun Osogbo Grove (Osun State), Gashaki-Gumpti National Park (Taraba state) Arochukwu Long Juju Slave Route (Abia State), Abuja Art village, Cross Rock (FCT, Abuja) and many others.

Read also: NLNG signs deal for aggressive eco-tourism in Bonny with Consulate Building recast

The tourism industry contributes 2 percent of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) but experts say its business volume and potential if properly harnessed can eclipse revenue from oil and gas. These tourist sites have the capacity to sustain certain states in Nigeria. Cross River state was estimated to make N1.7 billion and attracted nearly two million tourists in 2017 from carnivals and festivals only. The growth of tourism in Nigeria will have a multiplier effect to equally boost the hospitality industry, aviation sector and generate more foreign exchange.

The creative and art industry possesses huge income-generating potential and also shows the diversity of Nigeria’s rich cultural heritage. The art and creative designs are increasingly gaining prominence in homes, offices and art galleries within and outside Nigeria. The creative industry especially the entertainment aspect has a far more reaching impact of portraying Nigeria’s cultural values, beliefs, traditions, food, languages and dressing to the world, beyond just entertainment. Skilled artists are making a living and going into commercial production and export of their creative works through fashion, textiles and paintings. This industry has the potential to create over a million more jobs and generate more foreign exchange earnings. According to Nigeria’s Ministry of Information and culture, in 2014, Nigeria had just 23 cinemas, 100 screens and three digital platforms but as of 2019, the number of cinemas has grown to 51 screens, standing at 184 and five digital platforms. The creative industry made revenue of N5.5 billion from only cinemas from three million people in 2019, with over 6,000 screens and 1,000 more cinemas needed to meet the needs of over 200 million Nigerians. The creative industry has the potential to increase its contribution to the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from three percent to five percent.

More like other sectors of Nigeria’s economy, there are huge challenges with funding and access to credit facilities. Even though there is a considerable increase of interest in the creative industry from foreign organizations, NGOs and the private sector, not much has been done by the government to support and improve tourism and creative art in Nigeria. Even though the sector is one of the fastest-growing sectors and has the potential to attract foreign investment into Nigeria, the creative arts and tourism have not been a major diversification focus for present and successive governments in Nigeria. Lack of government investment in sectorial infrastructures remains a concern. Insecurity in Nigeria also poses a major constraint to the development of these sectors. There is a need for Nigerians to support and patronize our local creative industry and tourist sites so as to reduce foreign tourist trips to boost our local economy. There are economic examples for Nigeria and other West African countries to learn from Dubai, Singapore, Rwanda, Seychelles, Tanzania and other nations who have made economic fortunes from tourism to create employment opportunities, grow government revenue and achieve sustainable development.