The Chairman of Bayelsa State House of Assembly Committee on Culture and Tourism, Hon. Moses Marlon has stressed the need to transform the rich Ijaw cultural resources in Bayelsa state into marketable cultural tourism products as part of efforts towards driving domestic tourism, adding that culture has a direct impact on tourism.
Hon. Marlon, representing Southern Ijaw Constituency 3 in the State House of Assembly, noted that the economic impact of cultural tourism has become so relevant, just as he maintained that cultural resources have an inestimable value for local communities, pointing out that cultural tourism has become the motivating factor for many persons travelling to various locations to experience different cultures.
Speaking with travel writers in his office at the Assembly Complex, Amarata, Yenagoa on Thursday, the committee chairman reiterated that culture drives the accumulation of intangible assets, such as social and cultural/symbolic capital among others, thereby fostering economic and social growth and environmental sustainability, while tourism provides an important means of enhancing culture and creating income which can support and strengthen cultural heritage preservation and creativity.
He called for concerted efforts and synergies among stakeholders in the culture and tourism sector to come up with initiatives geared towards identifying the economic contribution of cultural tourism with a view to exploring the inherent socio-economic benefits of tourism development, using culture as the engine to drive the whole process.
The House committee chairman who maintained that culture and tourism are linked because of their obvious synergies and growth potentials, stated that cultural tourism has become one of the largest and fastest growing global tourism markets and that cultural and creative industries are increasingly being used to promote tourist destinations all over the world.
Hon. Marlon said his committee would work with all stakeholders to create an enabling operational environment for tourism enterprises in the state to thrive, stressing that the increasing use of culture and creativity to market destinations is in line with global best practices.
He further advised stakeholders to come together to develop cultural products to enrich the tourism experience, assuring that the House Committee is favourably disposed to public-private partnership initiatives and programmes that would bring together a wider range of stakeholders to use culture not only to make Bayelsa destinations attractive for visitors, but also to promote the Niger Delta region as regional destination to live, work and invest in.
It would be recalled that the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) defines cultural tourism as culture-motivated travels, such as study, theatre, and cultural tours, travelling to festivals and similar events, visiting historical localities and monuments, travelling in order to explore nature, folklore or art, and pilgrimages. Research conducted by the UNWTO indicated that cultural tourism covers as much as 40% of world tourist travels which represents a large segment of the tourist market.
By Piriye Kiyaramo