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How Runsewe sold Nigeria to Americans •We’ll stimulate golf tourism in Nigeria -Jacksonville, PGA officials
FOR every step which God Almighty sequentially enacted in creating the world, there was a reason. Even philosophers, like spiritualists, have an inkling into how life should be.
Walter Rodney said: “How Europe underdeveloped Africa’ that each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill it or lose it.
This mantra should be the testament of faith and silent motivation for anybody who has been entrusted with a public office.
Immediately a public office holder is appointed, he must, as a matter urgency, sit down, appraise his office and determine what he is sent there to do, what need to be done and how it could be achieved. That is, that public officer must discover the mission and vision of that office and decide on how to achieve it.
He must of course bring out what value he will be adding to the office by being proactive and rising up to confront matters arising from contemporary issues as related to his office.
For him to make the desirable mark which could set him apart from his predecessors, he must be able to upstage the status quo ante in a way that the public will not only notice that an agent of change has come but feel the impact of that change.
He should then go on to fetch those people, individuals and corporate entities that he feels could be agents of collaboration and synergy of purpose on the vision and mission expected of his office.
Not that he will not encounter a revulsion from the system rats who must have been bruised and pained by the reverberation of the ongoing revolution which is about truncating their long time enjoyment of ill–gotten spoils of office.
He may also suffer persecution from his supervising boss who may be envious of the giant strides he is taking just because he is being proactive and alert, having discovered his vision and pursuing it with agrarian doggedness.
However, because what he is doing is of public interest, for posterity and development of the society, the Lord will not only protect him from the evil plans of the reactionaries but make a way for him where it seems there is no way .
President Barrack Obama, Governors Babatunde Fashola, Olusegun Mimiko, Goodswill Akpabio are in the mould of these rare humane beings whose strides in their respectful posts have proved that the Lord is for that man who puts personal consideration apart to do those things that will benefit the generality of the public.
These kind of men, though very few, are also in other wings of government doing that which is not only building confidence in the people about government and governance but going a long way in boosting the image of the country.
In the tourism sector, the coming of Chief Runsewe as the Director – General, Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation, (NTDC) offered the sector a new lease of paradigm never witnessed before.
Chief Runsewe exemplifies a man of integrity and vision who sincerely believes that the business of tourism must not be just business as usual.
Having done his home work well by discovering his expected role and actions, he rolled out his slogan of motivation as “Practical Tourism” which steered clear of the old order of doing things at the corporation.
The practical tourism saw to the adoption of new strategies, concepts and processes of exhibition packaging, fair attendance and policy execution.
This has cultivated respect, dignity, love and attracted business and tourism traffic to Nigeria. The hither- sordid story of Nigerians owing international fair exhibitors had gone for good.
As a proactive public servant, he realised the enormous image problem which confronts Nigeria in its quest to attract heavy tourism traffic from Europe particularly, from America.
The British are coming in droves, realising the fact that Nigeria is a Commonwealth nation; they could understand the Nigeria nation, its people and cultures.
The common Americans, despite the hobnobbing at governmental level by the two countries, have little understanding of Nigeria.
This is not helped by the quick and prompt issuance of travel advisories by the American government at the least provocation, which goes a long way in demonising Nigeria as a country not safe for tourism.
Thus except for strict oil business or matters of utmosts importance, a typical American fears to venture into Nigeria just because of media stereotyping, misconception and the terrible propaganda being laundered against Nigeria.
And in the ranking of world tourism spenders, the Americans have been found to be No 1, as they indulge in adventure, eco–tourism, safari and excursion into the deep rainforest, all available in Nigeria.
Reinforcing this is the Diaspora’s nostalgic disposition to where they come from? Who they are? what they are and where they are from.
The dislocation from their roots, as related by their grandparents and parents too is now stoking the fire of “retuning to the roots in them.
In as much as these Africans in the Diaspora know that Nigeria is the root of their existence on earth, they are not willing to venture into what has been variously described as a danger zone by their host government.
This is because the deluge of misinformation about Nigeria has been so great and intense that it is capable of melting the heart of the bravest intrepid adventurer into Nigeria.
And to make the matter worse, Nigerian information managers and media spin doctors have not come out with dynamic tools of breaking the media conspiracy against Nigeria, which scares off the American from exploring the tourism potentialities of this great country.
It is not as if the Federal Government officials have not been doing something but what they adopt as the strategy of selling Nigeria to American has not been effective and productive.
Is it not a laughing matter at this age of civilisation being fostered by hi–tech revolution and power of networking, that officials of the Federal Republic of Nigeria will mount open cars in foreign countries, carrying the Nigeria flag and shouting in the market square, pretending to sell Nigeria or correct Nigeria’s image through the so called of road show?
The fact is that this antediluvian method and style further cultivates more hatred for Nigeria, as the act is seen as constituting nuisance.
These officials who embark on this kind of wasteful jamboree are short-sighted, as they are not fit for the post they occupy.
The question which they should have asked themselves is “How many countries have come to Nigeria on such a stupid road show and executed same in Apongbon market or Oke – Arin in the name of promoting or shoring up the image of their countries?
But because they lack vision and have no solid understanding of what they are supposed to do as ministers or heads of parastatals agencies, they just embrace the foolish acts which further plunge Nigeria’s image into irremediable abyss.
Nigerians are the most worthy patrons of South African tourism despite the huge volume of violence and crime in that country. The American, the Chinese, the Arabs, all scramble to South Africa where the crime rate is of a more dangerous dimension than Nigeria’s, yet how many times have you seen the South Africa’s Tourism minister mounting bolekaja in Oshodi, hawking of South Africa’s image?
But it takes only the deep to be called to the deep. South African tourism is alive in Nigeria and winning thousands of souls for the country without making noise on the roof tops.
What of Ghana? Ghana’s tourism potentialities are not up to half of what Lagos State has. Yet, tourists all over the world throng Ghana as if it is heaven on earth. And I have not seen the Minister of tourism in Ghana mounting the roof top of any car in any nation proclaiming that he is on the road show to sell Ghana. Ditto, Senegal, Gambia, Kenya and Zimbabwe.
Yet, these countries aggressively market and promote their countries effectively and purposefully well, without being unduly boisterous.
The so called road shows have been counterproductive, as they appeal to no one in particular and are of no essence.
As those who control the nation’s consciousness and opinion molders of great worth are not the market women or the passersby who make mockery of the officials on the articulated vehicles, dancing sheepishly in the market, but the tangible few who control and mange the nerves and beats of the society. And if by corporate packaging and well researched information dissemination, the image managing and reconstruction strategy is directed at them, then the songs of that country will change for the better .
This is exactly the strategy adopted by Chief Runsewe in his effort to ensure that Nigeria breaks the jinx of unacceptability, hatred and bad image in America by the Americans.
The road to this success was paved and mapped out in Germany at IT Berlin held in March where the performance and conduct of Nigeria’s small delegation led by Chief Runsewe won the hearts of thousands of tourism buyers and sellers.
This prompted the visit to the Nigerian stand by the organiser of the exhibitions, Messe Berlin and major American tourism sellers offering to market Nigeria in the US.
Among the tourism promoters and marketers who visited Nigeria’s stand was Paul Cohen, CEO, Partner Concept, a specialist tourism destination promoter with octupous track in Asia and Southern Africa sub region.
With the credentials and attestable credibility of Paul Cohen, an MOU was signed for a strategic marketing and promotion of Nigeria to those that matter in the US.
And as a responsible officer of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Chief Runsewe put together a small delegation, armed with quality information material and souvenir and headed for the USA, in furtherance of the strategic MOU signed at the ITB Berlin with the seasoned destination promoter.
Having engaged the best firm to do the job, the preparation and schedule was clear. The Road show, was scheduled between July 30 – August 7 with the itinerary of getting to Jacksonville in Florida, Los Angeles, in California and Washington DC. Each of these cities was marked for a specific interest group.
The professional segmentation and approach which made the road show a success included the interaction between the delegation and the world golfers in Jacksonville, the sport basketball flayer of LA Sparks, the american entertainment and conference planners at Grammy Centre in Los Angeles; the African American Community in California; the tour operators and destination marketers, the media, and the specialists in religious tourism in New York with the touching of base with the Martin Luther Foundation in Atlanta Georgia.
Meanwhile, REALISING that the majority of high net worth tourists and itinerants Americans who have much to spend on their passion are golfers, Paul Cohen arranged the first contact of the Nigerian delegation to visit the World headquarters of Professional Golf Association, (PGA) Headquartered in Ponte Vedra Beach, Jacksonville, Florida.
Armed with necessary information and materials which stipulate the golf tourism assets in Nigeria, Chief Runsewe and the Nigerian delegation were ushered into the boardroom of PGA.
Present for the day business were Brian Woyt; director, Brand marketing; Carlton Kitchens, director Business Development, Dan Glod, Vice – president, Business development and Tom Alter, Vice- president, Communications.
Chief Runsewe canvassed three major supports from PGA; the inclusion of Nigeria on the world list of golf tourism which will direct golfers to Nigeria for tournaments: The training of young talents in the game of golf and endorsement of the golf institute which has been inaugurated.
In his response, Woyt commended the NTDC helmsman for coming over to the US and particularly the PGA, to solicit support for golf sport tourism in Nigeria.”
Woyt said that the visit of Chief Runsewe was a major breakthrough at reaching the powerful members of the PGA in America, adding that many of them did not have information on golf courses in Nigeria. “But with your coming, it is crystal clear that Nigeria is not only ready to receive international golfer to visit but has many golf courses where international tournaments can take place.”
He assured that PGA was ready to assist in promoting and marketing of golf tourism in Nigeria as well as training of 10 golfers in Jacksonville.
“ We are ready to assist in the development of golf sport in Nigeria. And we hereby offer to train 10 pro golfers at the Tour Academy here.”
Woyt said that due to the submission of Chief Runsewe, Nigeria was being invited to join the First Tee programme, which he revealed was conceived to train the youths in golf. “We have a tour academy where the golfers are being trained with the latest equipment and competent instructors.”
Woyt later conducted the Nigerian delegation on a tour of the Tour Academy where they marvelled at the level which America had taken the game of Golf to the delegation also went round the 18-hole golf course where professional and international tournaments take place always and also walked through the TPC houses.
At the end of the tour, Woyt congratulated Chief Runsewe for being the first Nigerian executive officer to visit the PGA headquarters and talk about not only how to support the country in developing the game of golf but to sell Nigeria to PGA, as a country good enough to visit . “This is a good and commendable step which will go a long way at boosting the image of Nigeria “Mr. Woyt said.
Chief Runsewe thanked the PGA team for being a good host and assured that Nigeria would do all things possible to make sure that the 10 professional golfers from Nigeria would come for the training.
He informed the PGA team of his delegations itinerary to California where it would take Nigeria’s case to members of African – American, The Tiger Woods Foundation, the media, tour operators and all those who are necessary in the task of selling Nigeria to American tourist.
(To be continued next week)Share