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Tourism and entertainment industry a comatose tools for economic development

By Somadina Okorie The truth be told, every country of the world is a tourist destination, but it is by choice to make ones such…

By Somadina Okorie

The truth be told, every country of the world is a tourist destination, but it is by choice to make ones such attractive. Implying to say, that the main goals of controlling the flow of people, goods, and services into and out of any nation is to keep track on entry and to prevent illegal immigration, safeguard the lives and property of its citizens, maintain national sovereignty, border control, and to keep foreigners from taking advantage of the opportunities specifically designated for citizens. Not to refuse visitors entry on vacation and or tourism.

The above stated reasons could be some of the explanations for why, only seventeen (17) countries in the world—the bulk of which are West African nations—can enter Nigeria without a visa. The goal of this article is to examine how such a hash policy could harm the Nigeria’s ability to expand economically and its diplomatic ties with other nations.

The Ministry of Tourism, whose primary duties include developing policies and promoting tourism in Nigeria, has yet considered pushing for more nations to be granted free visa entry into Nigeria at least for a minimum of thirty (30) day duration.

there is no gain saying that giving people easy access to enjoy a country’s vast natural resources is the best way to highlight and promote them. Therefore, there is no legitimate reason why a citizen of the United States, Canada, Europe, or the United Kingdom should need to apply for a visa in order to travel to Nigeria for tourism.

Most citizens of wealthy nations would probably not want to live in Nigeria instead of their home countries, but could be interested in visiting for holidays. They are however tragically discouraged by the unpleasant experience of having to wait in line for a visa to a country that is clearly still developing. They rather travel to other countries that requires visas on arrival.

The current foreign exchange crisis in Nigeria’s economy has resulted in an endless shortage of foreign exchange, which has significantly raised the cost of converting Naira into US dollars, especially on the black market. kudos to the intense efforts of the current government.

However, because of this volatile situation, which has increased tension in the nation and negatively impacted Nigeria’s standard of living due to an excessive reliance on oil, it has become increasingly difficult for succeeding governments to achieve economic growth, which would typically result in an improvement in the standard of living for citizens.
In the past eight years, President Buhari’s administration failed to find a novel way to wean Nigeria off its exclusive reliance on oil. For example, diversifying the economy and looking into other promising industries, like tourism, which meticulous study shows loses billions of dollars in untapped revenue, would not have simply saved the country of this quagmire.

Diversifying the economy from oil to other sector-based economy such as tourism and entertainment will drive sustainable growth, increase revenue sources, and create job opportunities if proper government policies are formulated in that direction.
This is understandably so because Nigeria has a unique and multi-cultural structure which avails us of rich cultural and tourism potentials that can drive growth if properly harnessed and sustainably developed alongside entertainment.
Nigeria with over 250 ethnic groups with diverse cultures, languages, arts, as well as a unique environmental endowment by nature which implies that each ethnic group can leverage areas of their comparative creative and tourism advantage to grow home or local economy.

Today, Nigeria has regular passport holders from a paltry seventeen (17) countries only who are visiting the country for tourism purposes including Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chad, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, and Côte d’Ivoire. These countries do not require visas and will be granted permission for short-term stay on arrival as reported by Embassies.Net.
On the other hand, a recent report by Henley Passport Index, disclosed that the Nigerian passport can cover about forty-five (45) visa-free countries enabled in 2024.

It is therefore worrisome that despite our rich cultural and tourism potentials, Nigeria has refused to advance freer visas for major developed and developing countries as well as dole out trade incentives to countries interested in exploring our tourism potentials, instead we permit such issuance to underdeveloped struggling nations with little or no positive implication to the development of our tourism sector.
Nigeria as a struggling nation in terms of economic growth, has refused and or neglected to assert control over its resources in this respect, hindering the full realization of the benefits that should ordinarily accrue from global success through tourism and entertainment.

Tourism Industry in Nigeria Today

Because Nigeria is home to so many different ethnic groups, as was already mentioned, it is well known that much of the country’s tourism is focused on events. However, if time is taken to explore our country’s rain forests, savannah, waterfalls, and other natural beauties, we will discover much more to offer.

According to sources, visitors spent over US$2.6 billion in Nigeria in 2015. However, recent data shows that the amount has significantly decreased, reaching an all-time low of US$1.5 billion since 2017.

Nigeria today has a more than enough tourism destination to wit; the Olumo Rock in Abeokuta, Sungbo’s Eredo in Ijebu Ode, Ogun State, Tarkwa Bay Beach in Lagos, Kajuru Castle located in Kaduna State, Tinapa Resort Calabar, Obudu Mountain Resort, Hot and Cold Water in Ikogosi Warm Springs, in Ekiti State, Yankari Game Reserve located in Bauch State, and the biggest fishing settlement in west Africa located in Oyorokoto in Andoni LGA of Rivers State and many other places that are yet to be explored and too many to mention here.

A lot has been said about the tourism industry which is being presently regulated and managed by the Federal Ministry of Information and National Orientation. In an effort to increase awareness of the nation’s tourist industry, the Miss tourist Nigeria Pageant was established in 2004. The winners in the years 2004, 2005, and 2006 were Gloria Zirigbe, Abigail Longe, and Shirley Aghotse. Regretfully, the ministry’s pageantry and other initiatives haven’t done enough in promoting tourism in Nigeria, sad to say.

Even Nigerians are unaware of the majority of the listed tourism destinations, let alone visitors from other countries. The list goes on. The most elegant Governor’s exuberant efforts in the name of Tinapa is turning into a wasted endeavor, to say the least.
much is yet to be explored of the interesting men and women of a specific tribe living on the mountainous region Taraba. We are of the view that they and or there, is a tourism goldmine that hasn’t yet been explored.

The Entertainment Industry : Because of the vivid artistry of imaginative, gifted, and adaptable musicians an performers, Nigeria’s entertainment sector undoubtedly shines as a light of innovation. These individuals have won numerous prestigious prizes throughout the world, projecting the industry on a worldwide scale over the years.

Nigeria’s entertainment sector has drawn attention from across the world, which in turn provides a platform for talents to develop and make a significant economic contribution to the country.

It is therefore no secret that over the years, our music industry for example, has attracted audiences from all over the world. Artists such as Burna Boy, Wizkid, Davido, Tems, Rhema, Yemi Alade and a host of others have garnered global recognition with their music traveling through different continents and for the first time and recently, Asia. This recognition has given rise to Afro beats a music genre exclusively originating from Africa; thus leading to multiple lucrative record deals, concert tours and brand endorsements from the international community.

Okoye Leo in his article titled: “The Rise of Afrobeat and its Global Recognition” recently published by the Voice Magazine, has the following to say with specific reference to 2023 thus: “The year 2023 marked a watershed moment for African music and afrobeat, witnessing a surge in influence and accomplishments by renowned artists. The introduction of a new Grammy category, chart dominance, and the global recognition of female artists, such as Tems, who achieved the historic feat of being the first Nigerian artist nominated for an Academy Award (Oscars), exemplify the industry’s ascendancy. Tems, breaking barriers not only secured a nomination for “Lift Me Up,” an original soundtrack for Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, alongside Rihanna but also clinched a Grammy award for Best Melodic Rap Performance with Future and Drake for “Wait for U”. Tiwa Savage, another trailblazer, etched her name in history as Nigeria’s first artist to perform at the coronation of a British Monarch, delivering a captivating rendition of “Keys to the Kingdom” at King Charles’ coronation. The global appeal of Nigerian Afro-pop artists has surged, with Rema’s memorable performance at the 2023 Ballon D’Or and his subsequent Billboard Top Afrobeat Song win for “Clam Down Remix” featuring Salena Gomez. Burna Boy, securing the accolade of Top Afrobeat’s Artist and the inaugural “Billboard Top Afrobeat’s Artiste”, further solidifies the international recognition garnered by Nigerian artists”.

No doubt, the industry was projected to experience exponential growth in terms of its revenue from an initial $4 billion annual generation in terms of revenue creation between the year 2013- 2014 to an estimated $14.82 billion in 2025 According to the NECLive report, ten (10) years after, in 2024, the timeline currently presents the entertainment and media revenue to be about $10.8 billion. Although this is significantly lower than the United States of America that is put at $598billion as of 2014, but we can’t also deny that if properly harnessed Nigeria is starring at a whopping billions in naira and other hard currencies.
It is also important to note that Nigeria was next to India in 2014 with India having an estimated sector size worth of about $17billion and capable of generating an estimated $22.2 billion in revenue per annum. The Indian entertainment industry is already closing on its estimated Rs. 2.34 trillion (USD 29.2 billion) to maintain a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 10% according to major reports.

A reports by ChartsAfrica on X, says Burna Boy has had eight (8) of the ten (10) highest-grossing concerts by an African Artist in between 2022 and 2023. The Nigerian music star has not just made international performances part of his routine to make additional revenue from his work but has done so by selling out historical centers on multiple occasions if not in all corners of the world.

The Nigerian Music Star is reported to have sold out 36,585 tickets on his show at LA DEFENSE ARENA in Nanterre, France and a total of 15,165 tickets at his London show in 02 ARENA according to topchartsafrica. Wizkid on the other hand is reported to have sold out his concert at 02 ARENA in London with over 16,938 tickets and 12,901 tickets in Madison Square Garden in New York while Davido sold out London’s highly acclaimed 20,000 capacity 02 ARENA in his most recent concert Timeless concert held in January 2024.

Conclusion
The prospects of Nigeria’s tourism and entertainment industry to grow our continuous plummeting economy is promising and this is driven by the job creation potentials potentials of the aforementioned industries, foreign exchange earnings, infrastructure development and digital innovation.
However, leveraging on these potentials requires a concentrated effort from all major stakeholders particularly the government in providing policies aimed at fostering global collaborations by creating an enabling environment for creativity and foreign investment as well as engaging industry stakeholders, private investors, artists, and industry associations to implement supportive policies and incentives aimed towards growing the industry.
Recommendations

– To sustain the growth of the two (2) industries, there is a pressing need for infrastructural development and investment in key areas such as tourism, music production facilities and exhibitions as well as affordable concert venues. This will in turn attract private investment both domestic and foreign and further bolster the economy.

– Over the years our star artists continue to generate millions of dollars in revenue from multiple concerts and tours held yearly in their host countries. While Nigerian music stars continue to contribute significantly on a global scale, there is a call for a more balanced approach that also uplifts local industries. It is my position that with the right environment, infrastructure and policies in place, exhibitions and concerts can be held in Nigeria and more foreigners will be more inclined to visit Nigeria to attend these concerts and can serve as a platform to showcase our music on a global stage.

It will also attract tourists from all over Africa and other parts of the world who are interested in having firsthand experience of Nigeria’s rich cultural heritage beyond the event itself. Concerts can help boost our local businesses and stimulate our local businesses ranging from hotels, food, transportation services, etc. The impact of hosting international concerts extends to employment opportunities in sectors such as event management, hospitality, security etc, and it will have a significant impact in generating revenue and contribute to Nigeria’s foreign exchange reserves. It is important to note that tourism in Nigeria is basically centered on events as earlier pointed out, but in essence, it is totally beyond that. Government can through private organizations establish a reputable, institutionalized Awards platforms to recognize and promote not only afro beats music but as well as highlife music, jazz music, fuji etc.

The ONE-STOP Investment Centre (OSIC): The One-Stop Investment Centre (OSIC) brings together relevant government agencies to one location to provide fast-tracked services to investors. The centre is coordinated by the NIPC, and its objectives is to simplify business entry processes by removing administrative and regulatory bottlenecks pertaining to doing business in Nigeria. The centre presently has twenty seven (27) participating agencies. If we must diversify our economy and harness the opportunity there is in tourism, Nigeria must as a matter of urgency, do more to encourage such initiatives. Whilst the government must be commended in this regard, there is also the need for government to add some flesh to the initiative by allowing the concept of shelf company. With the OSIC working, the need for shelfing companies for investors cannot be over emphasized.

The current visa policy needs to be reviewed. Like Rwanda, Nigeria should implement a free visa policy for tourists across major countries of the world. The potential of Africa has been pitched as “a unified tourism destination” being a continent that still relies on 60% of its tourists from outside Africa, according to the data from the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.

Our government must encourage local production by making funds available to manufacturers to promote made-in-Nigeria goods. This can be done by licensing private business individuals to display locally made-in-Nigeria products in strategic centres to be in the airports i.e. something akin to the OSIC for foreigners who come into the country to have easy access to made-in-Nigeria goods at a cheaper price as part of the first major incentives to the visitors-this must be be given priority. This tax free made in Nigeria goods may be accessed through licensed shops both at the airports and within the cities, with tax rebate at the point of exit from Nigeria.

Finally, the government should formulate policies to remove all bottlenecks in the exportation of made-in-Nigeria products by making the exercise seamless. This will further strengthen the Naira and give room for foreign trade and investment expansion which will benefit the country.

Somadina Eugene Okorie Esq. is a legal practitioner and founder of Senocean Law Practice.

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