Preservation of heritage materials, monuments could help boost tourism sector
The director general, National Commission for Museums and Monuments, Alhaji Yusuf Abdallah Usman has said that the proper preservation of heritage materials and monuments of a people could help boost the tourism sector and diversify the economy leading to foreign exchange earning and job creation.
In his presentation at the recently concluded Association of Tour Operators, NATOP Annual General Meeting, AGM in Calabar titled Preserving Nigeria’s heritage and monument for a tourism economy, Alhaji Abdallah Usman explained that in developing countries, heritage tourism is a solid factor in the tourism industry that leads to significant growth of economy and welfare of its citizens.
According to him, “heritage tourism is rooted in historic preservation and general management of heritage sites and the promotion of indigenous cultures and traditions. Hence it is of crucial importance to preserve intangible cultural heritage such as language, folkore, traditional craftsmanship, dance, beliefs, rituals, hospitality and others.”
The director general National Commission for Museums and Monuments stressed the the need to constantly keep the practice alive as the practice can on their own attract visitors.
Abdallah Usman stated that the Nigerian Heritage is as diverse as its people.
He noted that Nigeria is blessed with a significant amount and varieties of heritage sites and resources expressed in both natural and cultural forms as well as in movable and immovable states.
He said: “To mention some of the important heritage in Nigeria, we must include the over sixty declared national monuments which have been in our national inventory even before independence and hundreds of thousands of priceless artifacts antiquities and historic relics that adorn dozens of our museums across the country. As the agency saddled with the responsibility of managing the country’s patrimony, the National Musuems for Monuments has processed a set of hundred heritage properties for declaration as important national monuments.”
Commenting on the preservation of heritage and monuments materials to harness economic diversification and boost tourism, the DG pointed out that heritage tourism is rooted in historic preservzation and general management of heritage sites and the promotion of indigenous cultures and traditions.
“Hence it is of crucial importance to preserve intangible cultural heritage such as language, folkore, traditional craftsmanship, dance, beliefs, rituals, hospitality and others. There is the need to constantly keep the practice alive as the practice can on their own attract visitors”, he said.
The boss of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments maintained that the preservation of our cultural heritage is a duty that falls on all segments of our society especially the educational institutions, traditional authorities, government agencies responsible as well as NGO’s such as NATOP which is in the forefront of promoting tourism.
Abdallah Usman stressed the need for the sustenance of our natural and cultural heritage which must be integrated in the country’s overall strategic plans for national development.
While tasking NATOP on the development of local initiatives, the DG stated that, “in this respect, your organisation has a key role to play both in developing local initiatives as well as serving as advocacy group for the government to strenthten and equip its official cultural agencies. In so doing, Nigeria heritage development can best be facilitated through Inter-agency collaboration, community participation, tourism development, preservation and promotion and private public partnership.”
He observed that Heriate tourism (natural places and cultural materials is considered to be the new form of tourism gaining ground globally.
In his words: “Tourism now is about harnessing, witnessing and experiencing scenic attractions and cultural practices at destinations. This type of tourism is said to provide tangible motivation for conservation. If the priceless value of cultural heritage of a people is conveyed to attract tourists, researchers, among others, it could lead to wealth creation through foreign exchange earnings, job creation heightened through purchase made by tourists on souvenirs, transportation food, hotels and others.”
He emphasised that, “it is our collective responsibility to protect our valuable heritage to sustain our economy for our present and future generations.