Lagos, 11th May, 2016 – As part of efforts to diversify the economy, especially in this time of fallen crude oil prices, culture and tourism has been identified as a sector that will provide desirable revenue. We have a vibrant culture which is unique to help drive our tourism sector, so as to obtain our share of the global tourism benefits that will revive and redefine our industry for sustainable economic development.
The 2016 Appropriation Bill has been passed, now it’s time to walk the talk for the various information and culture ministries, departments and agencies. This is not a criticism of the present government in Nigeria, but some pieces of advice on how we can tap into diversifying our economy.
Countries around the world have recognised the immense contribution of tourism as a major revenue generation mechanism to their economies. Hence, the reason why some countries engage in the nation branding exercises. Our dear country has had its fair share of rebranding which faced so many criticisms before now.
Moreover, there is no limit to how a country can rebrand itself. If you observe the average person, we spend a lot of time taking good care of our looks. We also spend so much time on our beauty in order to feel accepted in the public. So, if it takes that much effort to look attractive and acceptable in the comity of nations, Nigeria should not be an exception in making sure it brands itself properly.
There are so many ways which tourism can attract Foreign Direct Investments; however, this write up will discuss some of them. Although the present government have tried to implement some of these techniques but this is a plan for the present CHANGE era. If you look at why we need FDIs as a country, it is majorly because we want to create more direct and economic spill over so that local suppliers will grow their businesses and there will be more businesses in the community. Thus, quality of life of our country would be greater.
In attracting FDI to Nigeria, we have to target the right companies, industries and investors for our country so that we can give them soft landing. We should regularly deliver clear vision in form of messages, i.e. to hold seminars, e-books, multimedia about our great country that is readily available online. There should be an international campaign in form of rebranding that will be seen all over the world; without ruling out a Nigerian online network to propagate our messages around the world. We can organise speaking engagements with business associations and embassies promoting commercial missions for potential investors. Even Nigerians in diaspora are not to be left out.
Furthermore, in having a strong nation brand, we have to look at how we want the world to see us in terms of buying from us, doing business, working, living and spending in our great country; in terms of tourism, trade and investments. Nigeria should be perceived as a place with beautiful history, architecture, topography, scenery, culture, and positive reputation.
We should have that ownership mentality, i.e. continuously promoting made in Nigeria goods. Even if foreign companies want to set up here, thirty per cent ownership stake should be Nigerian for at least the first three years of operation. The workforce should be a reflection of the six geo-political zones of Nigeria. These will help strengthen our local suppliers. These will allow foreign firms make more profit and to also promote competition to force retailers to be more competitive and creative in terms of marketing and cost structure.
Even the potential of PPPs to increase heritage site tourism should be encouraged, for there is need for economic, political, social and execution needs. The volume of financial needs for heritage sites and related tourism is huge and can be offered by private sector. It is not the best to rely solely on tax funded government revenues to develop the sector extensively. Tourism therefore, has immense potential not just for preservation of our heritage, but also increases in employability, knowledge dissemination and economic growth.
Therefore, if this government can invest in culture and tourism in the way other successful countries known for its beautiful tourism attractions, this can provide the necessary revenue generation mechanism and thus create jobs. We will be able to attract the right companies, industries and investors for our country.
Michael Ejiro Joseph, is a Branding and Public Relations expert, he wrote via firstname.lastname@example.org,