Sports and tourism experts in Africa have called on all stakeholders in the two industries to work together as both industries are interconnected and should collaborate for their mutual benefits. They made this call at the maiden edition of The African Sports Tourism Summit held on August 25th, 2018, as part of the activities lined up for the African Sports Tourism Week 2018.
The event, which held at the Golfview Hotel & Suites, Lagos, was moderated by the effervescent Oluwaseyi Adegoke of Inside Watch Africa, with Seyi Akinwunmi – 1st Vice President, Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and Lagos FA Chairman, Tega Onajaife – founder, Ladies In Sports, Vinod Kaurani – CEO, Tripberry, Kayode Tijani, and Abiola Bakare – Sales Manager, Kenya Airways as members of the panel of discussants.
The panellists who were selected from administrative, media and travel professions agreed on one thing: sport will reach its full potential when sports and tourism industries exchange a purposeful hand of fellowship. This set the backdrop for the discussion.
Seyi Akinwunmi, who revealed his traverse of the tourism landscape, noted that local organizing committees of sporting events need to stop trying to be everything-in-one and work with travel professionals for a better organization to maximize the socioeconomic opportunities such events provide. He, however, objected to the need for a travel professional on the NFF’s board as suggested by Abiola Bakare.
Responding to the moderator’s question on what tourism can do for sports, Abiola said: “tourism can help sports be better organized and maximize the opportunities in sports tourism”.
Tega Onajaife drew examples from the Asaba 2018 Africa Senior Athletics Championship experience to call on journalists to do more than reporting the negatives. She noted how journalists only wrote and tweeted about the logistics nightmare that marred the opening part of the event, but failed to report that the event eventually got better by the second day and that visiting athletes confessed to have enjoyed themselves till the end of the event. She believes that balanced narratives can help sports tourism in Nigeria and on the continent. “By the second day, Athletes from Ethiopia, Egypt etc. were practically the ones dragging us out of the hotel to join them in exploring the city. White Egyptians hopped on Keke NAPEP like (it’s) nobody’s business. The number of spectators the event commanded was totally amazing. Some of them even promised to visit again. How come no one reported this?” She lamented.
Vinod Kaurani in his presentation on “The Economy of Cricket Through the Eye of Sports Tourism” posited that “for sports tourism to be incorporated and accepted in Africa, it must have the support of governments and sports federations must have the vision and mission to shake hands with tourism. I see that Nigeria is making some efforts to promote domestic tourism and sport has a big role to play in the achievement of that.”
Kayode Tijani, on the other hand, stressed the need to look in the direction of celebrity and nostalgia tourism, by promoting our sporting legends, relics, monuments, documents, clips and other relevant contents.