Creative Tourism: An Opportunity for Nigeria’s Tourism Entrepreneurs
At its core, the tourism industry is about experiences, showing tourists another way of life, another way of being, and of doing. Within this, there is growing interest globally in creative tourism, an emerging form of tourism which is focused on enhancing tourists’ experience of destination by providing an opportunity for tourists to learn about local culture and practices not merely by observing but through active participation in workshops, classes and experiential learning activities, to bring to life, a people’s culture, a destination and etch it in the memory of its tourists. In this way, creative tourism enhances the tourist experience and provides the potential for cultural expressions to be shared and experienced, creating life-long memories of the destination.
Tourism is a component of the creative industries. Creative tourism as a concept is recognized by UNESCO, who through the Creative Cities Network, have endorsed creative tourism as an engaged, authentic experience that promotes an active understanding of the specific cultural features of a place and can contribute to social and economic development in communities.
What are some examples of creative tourism activities? There are the typical, dance lessons, cooking activities, painting, photography, local craft-making workshops, adire workshops, batik workshops, and many other opportunities abound – shea butter oil making, shea butter making, palm wine tasting, aso-oke weaving, fishermen photography etc.
In today’s experience economy, transformational experiences provided by creative tourism provide an inclusive and participatory form of tourism activity, ‘eliminating the stage’ and involving the tourist as a co-creator in the tourist experience. Visitors are interested in understanding cultural practices and engaging in how items are made, contributing to an authentic experience of a destination, moving the tourist experience from the sightseeing, packaged tours to a more flexible, innovative and engaged approach.
How is creative tourism an opportunity for the Nigeria Tourism Industry? There is a lot of activity in Nigeria’s cultural and creative industries. What a time to be part of the tourism industry and what immense opportunities to collaborate within the industries to provide truly unique tourism products? There has been an increase in the number of tour organizers offering visits and tours across Nigeria although these are mainly cultural tourism. Creative tourism provides opportunities for these micro-entrepreneurs to enhance their tourism offerings by moving beyond cultural tourism where tourists merely visit the sites and museums to engaging with local residents and artisans in understanding and learning cultural practices and crafts. In this way, creative tourism can also contribute to rural development, empowering artists, farmers and craftspeople, empowering a wide-range of people across the value chain of the creative tourism delivery process. Moreover, by celebrating and teaching cultural practices, creative tourism practices can amplify the preservation of local culture and indigenous practices as well as the respect for and preservation of the natural and built environment. Creative tourism activities provide a relatively easy way to make Nigeria a more distinctive tourist destination, with the various states and regions providing unique creative tourism experiences for visitors.
What is exciting about creative tourism is that the barriers to entry are low – good participatory experiences simply have to be created, designed and well-marketed. Creative tourism incorporates everyday culture. It also presents ways for cross-sector participation, working with the cultural and creative industries in Nigeria to develop and design new tourist experiences targeted to domestic, regional and international audiences. In this way, creative products are transformed into tourists attractions, a cost-effective approach to developing tourist attractions in destinations. An interesting opportunity will be to see how some of these experiences can be developed using technology to contribute to the positive Nigeria story and narrative and create virtual experiences and games for people outside of Nigeria.
That said, there are still some major tourism development activities that need to be done, access to the destinations, stronger transportation links and robust training workshops for creative tourism and tourism entrepreneurs will need to be developed to ensure Nigeria is able to harness some of its significant tourism potential.
This year’s Nigeria Travel Week has Creative Tourism as its theme and at the Travel Roundtable at MUSON on November 20th, we will be discussing Creative tourism opportunities in Nigeria, its potential for job and value creation and how it can contribute to tourism receipts for Nigeria.
To attend, please register on https://www.eventbrite.com/e/nigeria-travel-week-2019-tickets-56809132645
Dr Adun Okupe is a Senior Advisor with Red Clay, a tourism advisory practice that focuses on harnessing the transformative potential of sustainable tourism in West Africa. She is a member of the Nigeria Travel Week team.