By Taiye Olayemi
Lagos, Aug. 13, 2020 Chief Olusegun Runsewe, Director-General, National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), says tourism and culture industries are capable of solving Nigeria’s problem of unemployment, if the nation’s potential are properly developed.
Runsewe made the assertion on Thursday during a webinar session, organised by the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA) with the theme: “Tourism Business Opportunities in Face of New Normal”.
He called on Nigerians generally to look inwards, explore tourism and cultural potential the nation was endowed with, to be meaningfully engaged for wealth creation.
The director-general said that the industries were such that no one needed to be educated to embrace as tour guides, ticketing officers, visual artistes and more.
Runsewe suggested that the African culture of story telling, tales by moonlight should be revived, while the African stories should be produced in compact discs, an aspect which youths could engage in.
According to him, this will also help in catching children early enough to align and identify with the nation’s culture.
“This industry is the highest employer of labour globally; in this industry, nobody is a failure, everyone is useful, you do not have to be a PhD or Bsc holder to practice and be relevant.
“This is the sector that will save Nigeria from the problem of unemployment, considering its huge potential which remain untapped.
“Tourism development should not be left solely for the Federal Government.
“Every individual have roles to play, the host communities to our heritage sites need to be sensitised on the relevance of marketing and promotion of their cultural sites,” he said.
Runsewe said that Nigeria’s major problem in the tourism space was packaging, urging individuals to work tirelessly in projecting Nigeria positively, by enriching its content of tourism products.
He said the full benefit of the industry has yet to be realised.
“As at 1991, Dubai had only four storey buildings, but now have the highest numbers of sky scrapper buildings.
“We go to see artificial sites in Dubai, but we have the natural one, we keep neglecting them,” he said.
The NCAC chief tasked NANTA on building formidable brands and good packaging of tours, considering reduction in the number of people travelling, as this would help the travel industry for improved sales.
He also advised the association to focus 30 per cent on domestic tourism and 70 per cent on attracting international tourists into the country when ban was finally lifted on international travels.
“Nobody can promote this nation better than us; we should respect what this sector means to our nation, reduce our emphasis on security challenges as hindrance to domestic tourism growth, instead, emphasise on our strengths.
“No country is completely secured, no country is 100 per cent safe; truly, we have our challenges, but we should take advantage of the secured places,” he said.
Runsewe notified on NCAC’s plan to commemorate the forthcoming Independence Day with a drive-in-theatre to showcase most of nation’s intangible culture in dance and drama, peculiar with some states.
Earlier, Mrs Susan Akporiaye, NANTA President, urged tourism and travel practitioners to re-invent themselves considering the setbacks suffered due to COVID-19 pandemic.
“Tourism is about selling experience, and one of those experiences will always be our culture.
“We need to re-invent ourselves and start being innovative, do things differently,” she said.