Before the outbreak of COVID-19, there were very systematic attempts to connect tourism to the digital economy. Though it was a progressive reality abroad and in most established tourism destinations, the reality here in Nigeria was on fearful disposition, driven by poor backup infrastructure, largely making products and services expensive and unattractive to both investors and end users.
However, COVID-19 became the backdrop to challenge the fear of infrastructural disadvantage, getting round it and providing information to help get cultural tourism stakeholders to be responsible.
Thanks to the irrepressible and harworking director-general of the National Council for Arts and Culture, Otunba Segun Runsewe, who against all odds brought the digital reality to birth in the sector. So, how did Runsewe simplify this process?
First, the new normal, to get grips with defining the creative sector outside cultural tourism content was put on national focus, and digitally fronted to enable a collective agreement on how and where we must put all our eggs in developing the Nigerian cultural tourism brand and its diversity.
Runsewe just threw the “corn” and drove the process of the expected delivery of services, attracting local and international attention and interest to the Nigerian cultural tourism post-COVID-19 digital marketing opportunities.
Take it or leave it, the Runsewe NCAC effort brought some light and gave Nigeria a better image among the very contending destinations outside our continent and even within, badly hit by the covid pandemic.
It’s a huge credit to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the government of President Muhammandu Buhari that the virtual engagement driven by Runsewe’s NCAC ranked Nigeria as a destination not shackled by the certain fears of tourism tomorrow but lifted up to provide road map for its survival.
For over two months, every week, the untiring efforts of the NCAC-powered virtual reality blossomed to national benchmark for digital marketing and veritable bridge to refocus attention on the very Nigeria huge cultural tourism advantage.
From frontline operators, foreign embassies and their ambassadors, investors, the media, students and reseachers, solutions were proferred, foreign investment profiled and the very diversity of our cultural experience and reality globally shared more than ever before.
Significant for me in the whole process is that Runsewe took the back stage, moderating where necessary and on issues not clearly spelt in the entire digital banquet.
I recall some media friends and colleagues begging for a stand-down to enable them get grips with the many openings and options thrown up during the NCAC digital engagement.
Indeed, many people had dismissed the NCAC digital reality as a “fluke and media hype” with no visible staying power and impact but were swallowed by the very consistency, doggedness and encomium which trailed each outing.
The true shocker lies in the many international interventions, greatly pointing to the very positive profile of Nigeria as a destination close to the heart of most foreign tourists and investors, and also putting paid to the propaganda that Nigeria ranks low on the global tourism market search engine.
I did recall a very veiled mockery of the same digital option by certain failed opinion driver in the sector who rather than put the industry issues in perspective, chose to complain and deride the NCAC effort. Like his many likes in the community of deceptive vomits, the fellow today has been exposed of lacking grit and mental focus, nationally embarrassed and hiding in shame.
The very icing on the cake by NCAC is the planned virtual effort that will be unveiled to showcase the November date of National Festival of Arts and Culture in Jos, the Plateau State capital.
It is going to be the first drive-in virtual rebirth to marketing and showcasing the rich diversified Nigeria’s culture tourism economy. The executive brief and description of the engaging reality was showcased during the last outing of the first phase the innovative NCAC digital engagement.
Having been part of the NCAC effort in Port Harcourt and Benin, Edo state last year, it can only be left to very creative imagination to what the genius in Runsewe will bring to bear in this virtual showcase of our rich culture in Jos come November.
It is not a coincidence that Jos, the forgotten landscape and tourism glory land of Nigeria will benefit from this well deserved digital marketing opportunities and to which we must appreciate a public officer in the hue of Runsewe who sees challenges as opportunities.
Runsewe did so well while at NTDC, leaving such huge creative shoes and achievements, which many who came after him cannot possibly comprehend. Even the industry players were challenged and those who adopted his very untiring efforts, today chorus his Midas touch.
Suffice to say that we are looking for to Jos for Africa’s first ever vitual cultural tourism drive-in engagement, with global audience and marketing opportunities which will stimulate exposure of hidden national gold mine in the sector.
Huge opportunities for service providers, marketing and advertising organizations, transportation and logistics outfits, food and beverage companies, ICT, airlines and hotels, the beneficiaries of this virtual reality packaged by NCAC for the Jos national festival is very huge and counting.
Though Runsewe deservedly holds a national medal of Officer of the Niger ( OON), it would not be out of place to upgrade the medal to appreciate this uncommon Nigerian, doing uncommon things, to showcase Nigeria, a country so beautiful and rich in cultural diversity yet hardly reckoned by many people within and outside Nigeria.