Fashion As A Driver of Nigeria's Tourism Resurgence

LAGOS, Nigeria - Governments should not underestimate the role of fashion to drive tourism and to ultimately drive gross domestic product in the short, medium, and long-term. A strong fashion industry draws creatives, business leaders, trade partners, technological innovators, teachers, and students alike.

Western capitals of Paris, Milan, and New York have the reputations that they do largely for shaping fashion on a local level and transporting that output onto a global stage. These cosmopolitan cities are beneficiaries of millions of tourists who visit annually to take in the energy and excitement of the creative present as well as learn about the trailblazers of the past. Lagos, Accra, and Cape Town are well on their way, but a great deal of coordination and government support will allow these industries to move even faster and expand the narrative beyond typical fare.

The latest 'Tour Nigeria' campaign announced this week by the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation is a step in the right direction. With initiatives to revitalize the domestic tourism industry by a five-point plan described by the acronym CHIEF, which stands for C-Corporate Governance & Regulation, H-Human Capital Development, I-Infrastructural Development, E-Events & Marketing, and F-Finance & Investments, the NTDC is focused on strengthening the tourism sector to support visitors from all across the country and beyond.

We are proudly the most populous black nation on earth; home to the second-largest film industry on the globe whilst also being the fashion, technological and creative hub of Africa.
— Folorunsho Coker, director-general, NTDC
 Lagos Fashion & Design Week 2015 featuring Nigerian label Andrea Iyamah

Lagos Fashion & Design Week 2015 featuring Nigerian label Andrea Iyamah

One critical component is in leveraging local cultural attractions. As an example, when visitors seek out an exhibition at a leading museum, revenues are generated in the museum ticket, the public transportation, the items purchased at the gift shop, the meal selected after the visit, and in myriad other ways. There are nairas flowing at every stage to small to medium sized businesses, which largely underpin the domestic economy. Trinkets may seem menial, but are in fact tokens of a flourishing tourism industry. For local citizens, these cultural attractions keep nairas within the country, help to create new regional employment opportunities, and begin to stem the currency poured elsewhere outside of the country.

In an interview with BusinessDayNG, director-general of NTDC Folorunsho Coker stated, "We are proudly the most populous black nation on earth; home to the second-largest film industry on the globe whilst also being the fashion, technological and creative hub of Africa." Nigeria's legacy within the arts, music, and fashion is critical to its resurgence on a global stage. Increasing transparency of ongoing programming (such as bi-annual fashion weeks), advancing public transportation to ease travel across states, and ensuring accessibility to a broad swath of society - these efforts and much more will lay the foundation for revitalizing public perception of Nigeria's cultural exports.