Bayelsa, SA, London exploring music tourism to grow destination

Posted: December 18, 2013 in arts/culture, travel & tourism
femi kuti performing at the muson jazz festival in lagos last month

femi kuti performing at the muson jazz festival in lagos last month

Music tourism, an emerging trend in the industry, appears to hold more potential for emerging economies and even for the more developed ones as they explore alternative sources for generating and boosting revenue earnings in this increasingly competitive economic age.

Exploring music as a product of tourism, therefore, becomes all the more laudable when viewed against the backdrop of the fact it used to be discarded by the entertainment industry. And noting also that for decades music shows had been organized and hosted by these destinations just for the mere pleasure and entertainment bragging rights without consideration for the huge economic windfall accruing from it.

The growth and popularity of music tourism for emerging economies like those in Africa is driven further by the fact that music festivals’ programmes like organised workshops and master classes have become a major attraction for a new generation of musicians hungry for knowledge and techniques.

The attraction of this tourism product for these major destinations along with other emerging ones appear to be not just the huge economic potential accruing from it but also in terms of its sustainability which it portends for any tourist destination in addition to the wealth creation potential for the people of the immediate community and country.

Destinations like London, United Kingdom, Cape Town in South Africa, and now Bayelsa State in Nigeria seem to be headed in the same direction in terms of the level of economic investment channelled into exploring and exploiting that tourism product to promote and market their destinations as well as boost revenue earnings for the local communities and the countries in general.

A new report confirmed a whopping £322million (N83 billion) revenue generated by the music tourism product for London alone, just as  the South African government had announced an N8 billion revenue in 2011 from music tourism alone, specifically from its Cape Town International Jazz festival in Cape Town.

Bayelsa has now announced its intentions to venture into music tourism with two major almost back-to-back music shows in the state capital city of Yenagoa; the first being the just-concluded maiden edition of the Caribbean American and African Nations Music Awards (CANN) in the state capital on November 22; and another being the forthcoming Bayelsa International Jazz Festival on December 7.

Both events are unusually organized by the Bayelsa State Tourism Development Agency (BSTDA).

Explaining the rationale for the agency’s new venture into music events, during a media briefing last Friday, at the Jazz Hole, Ikoyi, Lagos, the Director General of the Bayelsa State Tourism Development Agency, Mrs. Ebizi Ndiomu Brown, said it was borne out of a desire to promote the tourism potential of the state as well as achieving set targets of the state government.

“We are involved in this project because music generally provides a veritable platform for the achievement of our set objectives. There is no gainsaying that Jazz music provides the needed ambience for the promotion of sustainable and responsible tourism in Bayelsa State.

“Besides, the Jazz music festival in Bayelsa State aligns with the cardinal objectives of our amiable Governor, Seriake Dickson in developing alternative sources of revenue generation in the state. As a visionary leader, Governor Dickson is looking beyond the present oil revenue sources to more sustainable sources of income generation like tourism and agriculture.

“The choice of tourism, you will agree is deliberate given our rich cultural heritage and beautiful topography. We are proud of our festivals and the exquisite beaches that are spread across the state. When visitors come to Bayelsa because of our Jazz Festival we also have several offerings for them on the table to enjoy. Already, our people are eager to receive our guests because we are in the forefront of championing a new wave in responsible tourism development,” said Brown.

Leading the top mix of artistes performing at the maiden jazz festival is the South African ace trumpeter and Jazz music icon, Hugh Masekela, veteran African-American jazz music exponent and top guitarist Earl Klugh, Afrobeat king Femi Kuti; top bass player Bright Gain; jazz composer and arranger, master percussionist Lekan Babalola and the Gangbe Brass Band from Cotonou, the Benin republic capital.

For South Africa, the Cape Town International Jazz Festival (CTIJF) in Cape Town has grown to become the defining music event on the continent. And with an audience now 33, 500 strong, the festival’s impact goes way beyond the performance arenas.

“The event has been sold out in advance for several years now and we are immensely thankful for the support our audiences have shown. Our only regret is that we‘ve reached the audience capacity ceiling in the venue for the moment. But, we’re very pleased to announce that plans are well underway for expanding the venue’s capacity. This will allow many more “festinos” to become part of Africa’s grandest gathering,” remarked espAfrika Chief Executive Officer and Festival Director Rashid Lombard.

‘’We note that the Cape Town International Jazz Festival makes a significant contribution to the economy of the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape in general. The Festival is one of our country’s major tourist attractions and contributes to job creation. It is because of such reasons that as the Department of Arts and Culture we continue to make the point that; the cultural and creative industries, of which festivals are an important part, is a major driver of economic growth and job creation,’’ said Mr. Paul Mashatile, Minister at the Department of Arts and Culture, South Africa:

In the chilly economic climate of recent years, many countries have begun to measure cultural impact in more dispassionate financial terms and South Africa is no exception on the same angle that Bayelsa State is seemingly leveraging its economic drive.

According to the latest research results from the Institute for Tourism and Leisure Studies (North West University) the Western Cape economy enjoyed benefit to the value of R498.6 million (N8 billion) in 2011. This amount is up by 4.9 percent from 2010’s figure. Nationally, as a result of CTIJF, South Africa’s GDP saw benefit to the tune of R761 million (N11 billion) -representing an increase of 7 per cent from 2010.

“The festival has become an integral part of the Cape Town events calendar and brings thousands of tourists to our city. Through supporting our local tourism industry in this way it sustains jobs, and ultimately puts bread on the tables of families who might have had to go without otherwise. That’s why we’d like to see the strong growth that the festival has experienced over the past several years continue,” said Cllr. Grant Pascoe from the City of Cape Town’s Mayoral committee for Social Development.

In addition, according to the research, many of the festinos who attend the festival return year after year. And as a direct result of the festival, jobs were created for 2700 staff and numerous service providers.

Dr Ivan Meyer, Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport in the Western Cape, “What makes the Cape Town Jazz Festival so special is that not only does it bring a major economic injection into the Western Cape’s economy and provide many jobs in our tourism and related industries, but it also provides opportunities for growing new talent with a number of programmes focused on developing our youth. I look forward to seeing these future stars, who have been given the opportunity to grow their talent and musical skills becoming main attractions at the Festival.”

Along with these economic positives, wide media coverage of the event is a vital part of the festival phenomenon.

On the outlook for the future, Lombard observes that, “Worldwide, creative industries have proven to be viable and highly sustainable. We must do everything we can to learn from these examples and be prepared to innovate at home.”

For Western Cape Tourism Minister, Alan Winde: “The Cape Town International Jazz festival has become an integral part of the Western Cape mega-events calendar and of our strategy to grow both domestic and international tourism to the destination. Each year, it brings thousands of tourists to our province, creating and sustaining jobs across this vital sector of our economy. That’s why we’d like to see the strong growth that the festival has experienced over the past 12 years continue.”

In the United Kingdom, a new report confirmed last week that major music events, festivals and gigs have brought £322million (N83 billion) into the capital in the past year with music tourist flocking to London shows by the likes of Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen.

For most Londoners, and music fans, it was good news especially for officials now looking to expand and improve London music events. The report was commissioned by Wish You Were Here, and revealed the contribution music made to the United Kingdom’s £2.2billion income from the tourist trade.

“This (report) will act as a catalyst for us all to ramp up our activity and forge better relationships with festival organisers, promoters, venues and producers to raise awareness of our amazing music scene across the world,” says Sandie Dawe, the Chief Executive Officer of Visit Britain, the tourism management and promotion platform for United Kingdom.

Culture minister Ed Vaizey added: “The huge financial contribution to the United Kingdom economy by the millions of music tourists to the UK annually makes it very clear that when combined, the music and tourism industries are powerful drivers for growth.”

2013 has seen a number of huge London music events, including Hard Rock Calling, Barclaycard Summertime shows in Hyde Park (including The Rolling Stones) and city festivals including Lovebox and Field Day.

And as Rashid Lombard noted: “In these times and especially on our continent, a healthy creative industry has become a necessity; the festival is proof that the arts can be a powerful tool to alleviate socio-economic ills such as poverty and unemployment.”

Emerging destination Yenagoa in Bayelsa may not be in the same sphere of economic development with Cape Town and London in terms of level of infrastructure and per capita income of its inhabitants, as experts agree, however, the move by government to deviate from entertainment hosting to exploring music tourism as a viable product and as also a way empowering the people of the state remains commendable.

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