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The Guardian publisher rallies media, tourism for economic growth

By Wole Oyebade and Ngozi Egenuka
30 November 2021   |   4:14 am
The Guardian Publisher, Lady Maiden Alex-Ibru, yesterday, sought better synergy between the media and tourism sectors to enhance mutual benefits and economic growth.

Founder and Chief Executive, Savory and Partners, Jeremy Savory (left); co-organiser, Akwaaba Travel Market 2021, Mrs. Rita Ikechi-Uko; organiser, Ikechi Uko; Special Guest of Honour and Publisher, The Guardian, Lady Maiden Alex-Ibru; Director General, National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), Otunba Segun Runsewe; President, Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN), Nkereuwem Onung and President, National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA), Mrs Susan Akporiaye at the 17th AKWAABA African Travel Market conference in Lagos…yesterday.

The Guardian Publisher, Lady Maiden Alex-Ibru, yesterday, sought better synergy between the media and tourism sectors to enhance mutual benefits and economic growth.

Ibru, at the opening of 17th Akwaaba African Travel Market in Lagos, said improved collaboration between practitioners could drive tourism to be a mainstay of the Nigerian economy.

To achieve that, she recommended the imperative of practitioners telling the compelling African good stories to a wider global audience, present factual and accurate state of affairs to guide potential tourists, encourage regional and continental free trade and movement of persons, and partner with think-tanks and relevant institutions to improve the knowledge base of tourism.

The publisher, in a paper entitled: “Role of the Media in Promoting Tourism and Travels,” observed that both industries were traditional development partners, with mutual benefits.

She added that the media, across all spectra of mainstream and social media, is embraced by billions of global audience, to do business and social activities.

Her words: “Together, I characterise the media, responsible journalists therein, as agents of impactful publicity globally. Rightly therefore, the media, holistically, provides the oxygen of publicity for private communications, local, national, and global affairs.

“Tourism is diverse, and includes activities of visiting heritage sites, locations, outer space, and other attractions for information, education, research and social purposes. Consequently, tourism is the mainstream of the economic foundation of several African countries. It is a veritable instrument of economic growth, development and job creation.

“Tourism is all about people and they make news. The media is one of the most important aspects of the tourism business. There are two primary ways in which people get to know about when to travel: word of mouth and media. Both belong to the services industry and work together hand in glove. Media contributes to 80 per cent of tourism revenue, while tourism contributes to 25 per cent of media’s revenue.”

Given the established harmony and emerging opportunities of the dynamic digital age, Lady Alex-Ibru said media and tourism practitioners must play more symbiotic roles to showcase the cultural heritage to a wider audience locally and internationally.

She said notwithstanding the challenges of COVID-19 and insecurity possessed by terrorism in parts of the country and Sub-Saharan region, the media could still play some strategic roles to boost tourism business.

On what needed to be done across board, the publisher said: “There is need for the media to create compelling narratives of the Africa that we desire. At The Guardian Group, we created a film, Eyimofe, which is not only showing across the world, but has garnered international laurels, and most recently, the Asian World Film Festival’s Red Cross Courage to Dream Award 2021 in Los Angeles.”

“Also, present factually accurate and balanced accounts of health and security challenges that are relative to tourism advice. That way, tourists can make informed choices. Highlight positive stories and images of tourism in Saharan Africa and Africa more widely. Exploit a diverse range of media channels and platforms to reach changing demographics on the key advantages of tourism as a vehicle of economic growth.”

She continued: “Articulate the benefits of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), which seeks to eliminate trade barriers on the continent, and by extension, heightens the stakes of direct and indirect employment across Africa.

“Dare to dream. Social media creates opportunities for capacity building and training courses in tourism development in this new age of artificial intelligence and flexible working practices. Exploit it profitably and responsibly. Partner with think-tanks, media houses and universities on accredited courses in tourism development.”

Organiser of the two-day summit, Ikechi Uko, said Akwaaba equips industry players and stakeholders with information needed to boost business activities in the sector.

He said it is an avenue for people, who have products in travel and tourism, to exchange with those in need of such services.

Citing the abundance of opportunities in tourism, Uko urged the government to step in, and do more to mitigate the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

President, Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN), Nkereuwem Onung, emphasised the skill gap evident in the sector and the efforts to address it through constant training.