Nigeria was given the Hosting Right for this inaugural edition of the Global Conference during the 64th meeting of the UNWTO Commission for Africa in Cape Verde in 2021.
Speaking in Abuja at the inauguration, the Minister stated that “Nigeria has been given the hosting right in clear recognition of the country's rising profile in tourism, culture and the creative industries not just in Africa but around the world. The creative industries, which include arts and crafts, design, fashion, film, video, photography, music and performing arts, have taken a central role in Nigeria and have boosted our tourism.” He further clarified that, “Nigeria film-industry, popularly known as Nollywood, has become a globally-recognized brand and the third largest movie industry in the world, after Hollywood and Bollywood. Our music industry, just like its movie counterpart, has also taken the world by storm, while our fashion industry is so huge that it is bigger than the movie and the music industries combined.”
Stakeholders in the industry will readily relate that Granting of the Hosting Rght for the Global Conference to Nigeria is a clear demonstration of the confidence the UNWTO and its member states have in the country's capacity to deliver. Recall that Nigeria has successfully hosted the meeting of the UNWTO's Commission for Africa four times; in 2002, 2008, 2012 and 2018.
The Minister further elucidated on Nigeria’s objective for accepting to host the event as, to showcase Nigeria’s tourism, culture and creative assets; to project Nigeria's image as a safe and desirable destination for leisure and business; to consolidate on the country’s relationship with the UNWTO and its member states; to highlight the restart of travel and tourism in a safe and seamless manner after the unprecedented impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, which resulted in a near collapse of the sector; to interact and exchange ideas and best practices with key industry players; to enervate foreign exchange and create direct and indirect jobs; and to create opportunities for trainings of public and private sector tourism officials and operators in Nigeria.
The Minister charged stakeholders are the Planning Committee inauguration, “Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, in line with promoting cultural heritage as one of the priority areas of the UNWTO Agenda for Africa 2030 -Tourism for inclusive Growth, and the priority of UNWTO on ‘Protecting Our Heritage’ in term of 'Social, Cultural and Environmental Sustainability’, this high-level conference, among other things, is anchored on the following objectives:
i) Gathering of top-notch panelists and stakeholders to discuss the linkages between tourism, culture and the creative industries;
ii) Networking opportunities for key industry players, practitioners as well as public and private sector policy makers to debatecontemporary and future issues as well as exchange ideas, best practices and information relating to tourism, culture and the creative industries;
iii) Promotion of innovative policies to harness the symbiotic potential of cultural tourism and the creative industries;
iv) Identification of investment avenues and mobilization of human and financial resources to boost recovery;
v) Identification of capacity-building gaps of the sectors, product development, marketing and digitalization; and
vi) Drawing global attention to the importance of the creative ecosystem and its key elements of creative people, creative projects and creative environment as well as the links between them.
Understandably, to watchers of the industry, Tourism and the Creative Industries are highly globalized. The sectors are industries in their own right and create added value globally, with spin-offs in the areas of trade, hospitality, agriculture, transport, construction, etc. in 2019, prior to theCovid-19 pandemic, the tourism and the creative industries were fast-growing sectors with the value of over 1.47 trillion US dollars and 2.25 trillion dollars, respectively. However, both sectors were greatly affected by the unprecedented pandemic.
Officials in Nigeria’s Ministry of Information and Culture earlier explained to reporters from ‘Nigeria Travel Digest’ that Ministers and officials from Tourism, Culture and Arts Ministries of UNWTO member states, UNWTO top executives and officials, invited international organizations, National Tourism and Culture Organizations, Destination Management Organizations, Stakeholders from the public and private sector working on Tourism, Cultural and the Creative Industries, the media, as well as,
representatives of the creative economy i.e. advertising, architecture, arts and crafts, design, fashion, film, video, photography, music, performing arts, publishing, research & development, software, computer games, electronic publishing, and Television/Radio.
While closing his address to members of the newly inaugurated Planning Committee, Alhaji Muhammad charged the Planning Committee, that “today's inauguration of the Planning Committee kickstarts our preparation for the global conference. The task ahead of us is enormous, but with the quality of membership of the Planning Committee, I am positive that Nigeria will once again prove its ability to successfully organize an event of this magnitude. During his recent visit to the headquarters of the UNWTO in Madrid, Spain,President m Muhammadu Buhari promised that Nigeria will host a world class conference, and assured all participants of a safe and environment, as well as, adequate facilities. We must live up to that billing.”
The inaugural UNWTO Conference on Global Conference on ‘Linking Tourism, Culture and the Creative Industries: Pathways to Recovery and Inclusive Development, will hold from 14-16 November 2022, at the National Theatre in Lagos, Nigeria.