In a first-of-its-kind convergence on the continent, stakeholders, enthusiasts and pundits congregated at The African Sports Tourism Summit – one of the activities of African Sports Tourism Week – which was held on the 25th of August, 2018, at Golfview Hotel & Suites.
The panel session – moderated by Oluwaseyi Adegoke, Publisher, Inside Watch Africa – combined excitement, humor and know-how. Barr. Seyi Akinwunmi – 1st Vice President of Nigeria Football Federation and Lagos FA Chairman, Tega Onajaife – founder, Ladies In Sports, Vinod Kaurani – CEO, Tripberry.com, Kayode Tijani – curator of Africa’s biggest sports library and Abiola Bakare – Sales Manager, Kenya Airways sat on the panel of discussants.
The thrust of the event is that sport is tourism and both industries of sports and tourism must see it as such. The panelists who were selected from administrative, media and travel profession blocks 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.
Barr. Seyi Akinwunmi, who revealed his traverse of the tourism landscape, posits that local organizing committees of sporting events need to stop trying to be everything-in-one and work with travel professionals for better organization, which helps maximize the socioeconomic opportunities such events provide. He, however, objected the need to have a travel professional on the board of NFF, 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 marshalled her chief point from the angle of narratives and journalism. Taking a cue from Asaba 2018 Africa Senior Athletics Championship, she reiterates how journalists only wrote and tweeted about the logistics nightmare that marred the opening of the event, but failed to report that the event eventually got its mojo, by the second day and 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 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”.
As the curator of Africa’s biggest sports library, Kayode Tijani stressed the need to look in the direction of celebrity cum nostalgia tourism, by promoting our sporting legends and archiving relics, monuments, documents, clips and other relevant contents.