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Use tourism to boost nation’s economy, artist urges govt

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Image Credits: Quintessence, Bonhams.

Veteran artist, Jude Oni-Okpaku, on Saturday called on government at all levels to tap into the potential of art, culture and tourism to boost the nation’s economy.

Oni-Okpaku, Chief Executive Officer, Quintessence Arts Gallery, made the call while addressing journalists on the Three-Day Cultural Weekend scheduled to hold from Nov. 27 to Nov. 29 in Lagos.

Ben Enwonwu’s ‘Nigerian Symphony’ (1963-64)

According to him, Nigeria is yet to identify many potentials embedded in tourism which is one of the fastest growing sectors in the world.

“Art, culture and tourism are capable of boosting the economy of any country because they have lots of potentials rather than concentrating on oil.

“The drop in global oil prices over the past few years has exposed the vulnerabilities of Nigeria’s dependence on crude oil revenues.

“Tourism sector should be revamped because it has the potential to attract substantial foreign exchange earnings, apparently Nigeria is rich with tourism potentials.

“That is why we initiated a three-day cultural weekend to bring together key stakeholders to champion ideas on how the art and cultural tourism can spur economic development in Lagos and Nigeria,” he said.

Oni-Okpaku said that tourism would also generate more jobs for the teeming youths who constitute about 65 per cent of the population.

The veteran artist said that more emphasis should be placed on tourism to increase the scope of the sector to meet global benchmarks.

He said Nigeria had under-invested in arts and culture and was unable to tap into its tourism potential to encourage patronage in the global market.

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The CEO urged government to create an enabling environment for art, culture and tourism businesses to thrive in Nigeria.

“Over the years, Quintessence has established a reputation as the world’s leading luxury department store for African art and craft and a leading purveyor of quality products and craftsmanship.

“Hence, we are committed to promoting local content and create an enabling environment for cultivating local craft and creativity,” he said.

Mrs Oluyemi Afolabi, a renowned tourism practitioner, said that the influence of religion could kill Nigerian art and culture.

According to her, Nigeria is blessed with different kinds of culture that can generate internal revenue in place of the dwindling oil sector.

Afolabi identified some tourist sites such as the Idanre Hills, Obudu Ranch, Kainji National Park, Ancient Nok Settlement among others.

She, however, urged government to renovate the sites to global standard to attract more tourists from all over the world.

Mr Curween Nedd, a dealer in African fabrics, also called on Nigerians not to allow their culture go into extinction due to religion.

Nedd commended Quintessence Gallery for its field work and research imbibing culture for exquisite creativity in Africa.

He also commended the gallery for its resilience being the first private gallery to organise an exhibition of arts and culture in Nigeria and countries like Sweden, Norway, England, Germany and Denmark. (NAN)

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