Engaging Nollywood to showcase Nigeria’s tourism endowment

All over the world film is more than an entertainment outlet. It is used as a tool for shaping opinions, driving national narratives to the larger world and projecting a nation’s cultures, economic, technological and other advantages.

Besides its entertainment value, one area where the motion picture is intentionally applied is as a tool for global marketing and advertisement of the tourism sector.

Films are unique platforms for promoting tourism, offering a blend of entertainment and destination marketing that can captivate audiences and inspire travel.

Some of the most admired and visited tourist attractions and destinations, such as the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Great Wall of China attracted global attention through the power of the visual media.

The wonder of the screen can make tourists travel from around the world to visit the Statue of Liberty in New York and the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt.

Films are powerful tools for promoting tourism by bringing destinations to life, showcasing their unique
attributes, and inspiring audiences to visit the real-world locations they have seen on screen.

The Nigeria’s film industry, known as Nollywood, is globally recognised as the second largest film producer in the world, turning out over 2,500 movies yearly.

It is only surpassed by Bollywood of India, even though Nollywood does not rake in as much income annually as the others, it is renowned for its rich and unique story telling attributes.

Before COVID-19 pandemic erupted Hollywood contributed $504 billion to the U.S. GDP. The figure represents at least 3.2 per cent of the goods and services portion of GDP.

Conversely, according to a research firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Nigeria’s film industry contributed only $660 million to Nigeria’s GDP in 2021.

One of those who think Nollywood can do better in terms of revenue generation for the country is the Vice-Chancellor, University of Abuja, Prof AbdulRasheed Na’Allah.

‘Nollywood can turn around the fortunes of the Nigerian economy. The government must unders
tand that now.

‘It is in the interest of the government to know that film industries are multi-million-dollar ventures. They can create wealth.

‘From all over the world, people are watching Nollywood. People are beginning to know Nigeria through Nollywood.

‘Is it our music, film, cultural dance, or language? We are taking the world by surprise, and because it is going to Japan, China and America, it is creating foreign reserves for Nigeria’, he said.

He spoke at a three-day conference in Abuja, yesterday, in honour of visiting lecturer, Prof Onookome Okome of the Department of English and Film Studies, University of Alberta, Canada, the VC tasked the Federal Government to support Nollywood.

Just like the Nigerian music brand, Afrobeat, Nollywood products have evolved to become global brands that are known and accepted across the world.

In recent times, the industry has produce blockbusters that have been screened in international cinemas, nominated and screened at prestigious festivals such as the Toro
nto Film Festival, Berlin Film Festival, Cannes Film Festival, among others.

Therefore, it can be argued that Nollywood, as one of Nigeria’s best exports to the world, has not been adequately engaged in showcasing the nation’s rich tourism potential to attract inbound tourists.

Nigeria is known for its rich historical and cultural heritage, breath-taking landscapes and diverse wildlife, which position it as a potential choice destination for tourists seeking unique experiences and adventures.

The country is home to nature tourism, with a lot of natural attractions, including lush rainforest, Savannas, wetlands and unique flora and fauna, spread across its six geopolitical zones.

This diverse ecosystem offer interesting activities to tourists, such as bird-watching,photography,star-gazing,camping,hunting,fishing,hiking and games viewing.

However, with these amazing tourism attractions spread across the country, beside various cultural fiesta and celebrations, Nigeria is yet to be classified as global tour
ism destination.

In the 2019 UNTWO World Tourism Ranking, Nigeria was not among the first 10 countries in Africa, with Egypt, Morocco and South Africa standing at first, second and third positions in that order.

Primarily, this ranking is based number of visitors and the income generated from the sector within the period.

Perhaps, inadequate packaging, promotion and effective marketing of the nation’s tourism attractions to the global market is the major drawback to the sector, and this is where Nollywood should be engaged by relevant authorities.

There is need for synergy between industry players, and this is where the Nigerian Film Corporation (NFC) and the Nigerian Tourism Development Authority (NTDA) need to show political will, patriotism and commitment.

NFC has the mandate to establish a robust framework for fostering a thriving and enduring film industry and cinema culture in Nigeria, and thereby actively contributing to the socio-economic advancement of the nation.

One of the NFC’s cardinal func
tions is to produce films for domestic consumption and export, and this is what puts it in the best position to engage stakeholders in Nollywood.

NTDA is responsible for the planning, supervision, development and marketing of tourism in Nigeria, and it has the duty to encourage people living in Nigeria to take their holidays therein and people from abroad to visit Nigeria.

These agencies need to join hands to initiate a pilot project and engage relevant guilds in Nollywood including the Screen Writers Association of Nigeria, Association of Movie Producers and the Actors Guild of Nigeria.

At the ideation stage of the project, a script should be written with a story line that set historical and cultural landmarks, parks and wildlife as locations for such film.

Other tourist locations such as Yankari Game Reserves, Ikogosi warm spring, Erin Ijesha water fall, Ojukwu Bunker, among others should as well be captured.

The various cultural festivals such as Argungu Fishing Festival, Osun Osogbo Festival, the Cal
abar Carnival and others should be reflected in such project.

The Federal Government, through its relevant ministries, should as well come up with an incentive mechanism for filmmakers whose projects tends to promote the nation’s tourism landscape.

These collaborations between filmmakers and tourism authorities will consequently lead to joint marketing efforts where film trailers can be paired with tourism advertisements, and locations can offer incentives for film crews to shoot there.

There is no doubt, if well engaged, Nollywood films will introduce audiences to locations they might not have known about, effectively serving as advertisements for these places.

Such films will also highlight the cultural aspects of a location, from food and festivals to traditions and architecture, and this cultural exposure can evoke viewers’ interest in experiencing these elements first hand.

As Nollwood films take more dominant place on global stage, using them to highlight the rich tourism attractions that abound in
the country will create emotional connections with viewers.

This will attract both domestic and inbound tourists to locations which will ultimately bring sustainable tourism development and make the sector a major source of national revenue.

To be a vehicle for selling Nigerian’s tourism potential to the international community, Nollywood should take the positives from the country.

Then Speaker of House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, addressed this concern at Leadership Master Training for Nollywood Celebrities and Stakeholders training under the platform of Actors’ Guild of Nigeria (AGN).

‘Beyond the questions of economics and profit, there is the issue of the critical role of Nollywood in influencing culture, defining national character, and promoting national identity.

‘You also have a responsibility to tell the best stories of our beloved country”, said Gbajabiamila, now Chief of Staff to President Bola Tinubu.

The Minister of Art, Culture and Creative Economy, Hannatu Musawa, acknowledges
to enormity of the task but remains upbeat about what the industry can do.

‘We are uniquely positioned in this great nation, endowed with an abundance of human capital and boundless possibilities.

‘Our collective aim is singular, and it is bold: to position Nigeria as the world’s culture, creativity and entertainment capital’, she said.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria