Nigeria’s Information and Culture Minister Lai Mohammed said more than ever, tourism and the creative industry have become the oxygen of the global economy.
Due to their economic viability, tourism and the creative industry are in the global spotlight and have their place at the forefront of national and international development agenda.
The Minister said this on Tuesday at the opening of the UNWTO Global Conference on Linking Tourism, Culture and the Creative Industries, with the theme “Pathways To Recovery And Inclusive Development,” which held at the newly-renovated National Theatre in Lagos.
Mohammed affirmed that hosting of this conference is a strong affirmation of Nigeria’s position as a trusted business hub, and a safe harbour for capital, talent and intellectual property.
Accordingly, he stated that hosting of two international events in quick succession by the Nigerian government is a testament to the increasing readiness, safety and security of Nigerian cities to play host to global events.
In the lead-up to the conference, Nigeria hosted the 2022 UNESCO Media and Information Literacy Week in Abuja, from 24th to 28th October 2022.
Through the progressive scaling-up of our MICE events (with MICE here standing for Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions), we intend to build public confidence and increase our operational readiness to host international events,” he said.
Alhaji Mohammed said the purpose of the UNWTO conference is to fast-track the objective of transforming the tourism sector into a preferred sector, and the creative industry into a creative economy against the background of the government’s intention of supporting and facilitating an enabling environment for the true business growth of tourism and the creative industry.
“This conference is very important in the history of the UNWTO and Nigeria, because it marks the very first time that the Organisation , in a single forum, is bringing together the three inter-linked sectors of tourism, culture and the creative industries to highlight their fundamental importance as effective tools for inclusive development and drivers of sustainable growth,” he said.
The Minister said for Nigeria, the conference, which has drawn participants from many member states of UNWTO, industry players, international organizations, the academia and the media, among others, presents an ideal opportunity to showcase the nation’s rich, diverse and unparalleled tourism and creative assets, to do some networking, learn new things and share knowledge.
He said that one of the key goals of the conference was to bring to the fore sustainable solutions and innovative policies for the development and enhancement of the symbiotic potentials of tourism, culture and the creative industry.
“According to a recent IMF report, the entertainment and creative industry in Nigeria, which in the last decade have experienced massive growth and international recognition, account for 1.45% of Nigeria’s GDP. In 2021, the number of annual film production stood at 2,500 with a projection of 22 million US Dollars.
“The revenue from music is estimated at 73 million US Dollars (with annual growth rate of 13.4%). In a similar vein, fashion contributes over 6.1% to global Gross Domestic Product (GDP), averaging between 2% and 7% of national GDP around the world. These sectors contribute to the growth, resilience and recovery of the economy of societies and well-being of individuals,” he said.
The Minister said the UNWTO Conference also provides an excellent opportunity to discuss ways and means to promote intra-Africa travels and tourism, leveraging on the continent’s vast and unique resources and the number, for mutual benefit to all member states.
He said the Nigerian Government had long identified the creative industry, tourism and culture as sectors critical to the diversification of the nation’s economy away from oil, describing the three sectors as not just the new oil, but also the new gold!
“This realisation explains why we have paid much attention to the sectors. We have given much visibility to our cultural sector, and one of the fallouts of this is our successful campaign to repatriate our much-coveted artefacts, which were looted and taken to different parts of the world. Hundreds of these timeless works of art are currently being repatriated to Nigeria, in a reflection of our successful campaign,” Alhaji Mohammed said.
According to him, the Nigerian Government has brought the creative industry to the front burner of the economy, highlighting the contributions of music, film, fashion, gastronomy, etc to the national economy. Of course, culture and creative industry are drivers of tourism.
“We have breathed life into the hub of our arts and entertainment, the National Theatre,
which is getting its first makeover in over 40 years, thanks to a collaboration between the Federal Government and the private sector,
specifically the Bankers’ Committee, which has injected $100 million into the renovation efforts. The outcome is what you see today – an iconic edifice reclaiming its lost glory. And this is just the first phase. When completed, there will be four new hubs for music, film, fashion and IT – and a new dawn for cultural tourism, arts and entertainment,” the Minister said.
The conference, which was declared open by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, is being attended by the Secretary General of the UNWTO, Mr. Zurab Pololikashvili; Siandou Fofana, Minister of Leisure and Tourism, Cote d’Ivoire; Mr. Hamat Bah, Minister of Tourism, Gambia; Mrs. Memunatu Pratt, Minister of Tourism, Sierra Leone and Julien Paluku Kahongya, Minister of Industry, Democratic Republic of Congo.
Other delegates at the conference include: Catherine Katungu Furaha, Minister of Culture, Democratic Republic of Congo; Modero Nsimba Matondo, Minister of Tourism, Democratic Republic of Congo; Kossi Gbenyo, Minister of Culture and Tourism, Republic of Togo and Mrs. Heather Sibungo, Deputy Minister of Tourism of Namibia; Mr.. Babalola Jean-Michel Hervé Abimbola, Minister of tourism, culture and arts of Benin.