CULTURAL TOURISM AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT A CASE STUDY OF UMUAGBOM COMMUNITY IN IMO STATE. A RESEARCH PROJECT MATERIAL ON TOURISM AND HOSPITALITY MANAGEMENT
Cultural tourism has a long history, and with its roots in the Grand Tour is arguably the original form of tourism. It is also one of the forms of tourism that most policy makers seem to be betting on for the future. The relevance of cultural festival as part of the culture and way of life of the people of Umuagbom community in imo state to Tourism development is investigated in this study. Efforts are made to high-light the possible ways Umuagbom community festival can be sustainably developed in the Study Area towards effective socio-cultural political and economic growth and better recreational and tourism management. About one hundred questionnaires were distributed randomly within the Study Area. The respondents consist of different categories of people with different backgrounds, occupations and social status. Findings revealed that age, occupation and civilisation has nothing to do with sustainability of Umuagbom community of Imo festival, however contemporary religious beliefs determine the level of sustainability. Cultural tourism has great advantages and potentials. Therefore, in order to develop cultural tourism, especially Eyiri-eyi Obohia, Iriji Mbaise (New yam festival) – August 15th every year festival in Umuagbom community. It is recommended that the organisers should pay special attention to:
i. Effective enlightenment campaign through Television, newspapers, radios and posters, handbills, etc.
This enlightenment campaign should be so programmed as to be able to gradually educate and change the culturally or religiously biased against this festivals.
ii. The coordination and marketing of cultural tourism in the Study Area.
iii. Financial resources from visits to cultural sites must be used for the purpose for which it is meant.
iv. The protection of our cultural values.
v. People should respect their culture.
Agarwal 1997. Having unique indigenous cultures, nature-based attractions, beautiful landscapes, and pleasant weather conditions, local communities in Africa, and other Third World countries, are increasingly being promoted and marketed in major tourist generating countries, particularly in Europe and North America, as offering immense touristic and recreational opportunities. Particularly, indigenous communities in the Third World are perceived as providing abundant opportunities for rich tourists from the North who have got the financial resources to spend in adventure and exotic recreational activities. As a consequence, an increasing number of international tourists are travelling to different tourist destinations in Africa and other less developed regions of the world. In 2001 for instance, over 28 million international tourists, mainly from Europe and North America, travelled to different destinations in Africa. It is further estimated that with the current international growth rate of the tourism industry, over 77 million international tourists will visit Africa by the year 2020 (WTO 2004).