ROLE OF LIMBE FESTAC IN CULTURAL TOURISM DEVELOPMENT
|TOURISM AND HOSPITALITY MANAGEMENT
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This study is aimed at investigating the role of the Limbe FESTAC on cultural tourism.
The study is guided by four specific objectives which are: to identify the different cultural products of FESTAC, to assess out the role of these cultural products on cultural tourism, to examine the challenges faced by FESTAC in promoting cultural tourism and to propose recommendations for the promotion and enhancement of cultural festivals.
For better comprehension the Cultural Competence Continuum framework was used. Data was collected from 80 respondents in the Limbe I municipality with the use of questionnaires and 05 FESTAC organizers were interviewed with the help of an interview guide.
Thematic-content analysis procedure was used to analyze open-ended/qualitative questions in the data collection instruments and the SPSS was used to analyze quantitative data.
From our findings, the result of objective one of the study shows that, 67.5% of the sample population have attended the festival and were able to identify the different cultural products showcased during the Limbe FESTAC; with traditional dances being the most witnessed with a 25.6%.
The results of objective two reveal that, 54.8% of the respondents agreed that the 12 cultural products presented promote cultural tourism while 17.8% of them disagreed and 27.4% of respondents were neutral.
With objective three, according to respondents, factors such as low publicity, inadequate media coverage and political interference are the major challenges faced by the Festival.
Organizers on the other hand advanced the time factor and limited resources as some major challenges faced in the organisation of the Limbe FESTAC.
Results for objective four showed that, respondents proposed the need to improve on media coverage and publicity; allowing non indigenes to participate in some activities ad also making the Festival apolitical as recommendations.
The researcher further recommends adequate media and less political interference in the Festival.
From an international perspective, carnivals, festivals and other social events is an age-old practice which is usually a platform to showcase culture, artifacts, history, language and the life style of a particular community at a given point in time.
A festival constitutes typical cases of ‘globalization’; which depicts the local aspect of a festival yet with a global perspective; cultural interrelationship from different dimensions.
There are different kinds of festivals which aim at showcasing different aspects like the 7th art; that is theatre arts and films; while some others focus on showcasing agricultural products, some others focus on sporting activities, religious or historic commemorations; folklore; and some others are more concerned with inter- professional festivals amongst many others.
Festivals often serve to fulfill specific communal purposes, especially in regard to commemoration or thanking the gods and goddesses. Festivals have also been a great source of entertainment; first from the local point of view, that is for the local community before the advent of mass-produced entertainment, to a global perspective.
In yesteryears, festivals were organized for different reasons; an early example is the festival established by ancient Egyptian Pharoah Ramesses III celebrating his victory over the Libyans.
Festivals that focus on cultural or ethnic topics also seek to inform community members of their traditions; the involvement of elders sharing stories and past experiences provides a means of unifying families and keeping the bond Zalmay (2017).
Undoubtedly, worldwide, festivals and local special events are used as key elements within regional development strategies.
Moreover they are widely acknowledged to make an important contribution to the economic development of their local areas, as they provide opportunities for tourism promotion, commercial outcomes and increase inward investment in host regions (Getz, 2007; Van de Wagen, 2005).
Renowned festivals in the world such as the Rio Carnival for example in Brazil, is considered the biggest in the world with over 2 million people on the streets daily.
Celebrated in prelude to the Lent season, this carnival integrates Brazil’s cultures and traditions, including the predominant European and African cultures, alongside the rich culture of music which has developed and evolved in Brazil.
Hence, the carnival does not only lure religious tourists but also lovers of pomp and pageantry. As a result of its diversity, the festival gets enough attention and coverage it deserves and fosters development in the area.
Another example is the Calabar carnival in Nigeria; also dubbed ‘Africa’s Biggest Street Party’ is one of the best and longest tourism events in West Africa. This Festival has enabled Cross River State to be a major tourist destination in Nigeria. This Festival presents a perfect platform for brand visibility for consumer and market awareness. It portrays the local heritage and culture and at the same time, strengthens the capacity of locals to participate in an economically beneficial way (Ifop, 2016). This is an Event which witnesses the participation of top-notch participants such as Nollywood actors and actresses, politicians and other notable men from across the globe. As a result of the calibre of people who attend the carnival, this makes the event trend on various media channels, hash tags and live videos on social media platforms and also gets an international media coverage. This has greatly boosted the economy of the Cross River State. Festivals of this state bring people together to celebrate unity in diversity. It helps awaken dormant cultural animators and producers of artistic works who will showcase a different dimension of cultural tourism.
Alongside special events like national day celebrations, sport tournaments and lots more, festivals are a major hub for cultural exposure, exchange and attraction on the international, national and local scale. Festivals cut across cultural barriers and ensure that every culture is represented; cultural diversity is highlighted through music, arts and crafts, traditional attires and assorted meals and through other cultural products. In their diversity, they engage both artists and visitors as participants sharing the specific cultural perceptions arising from history and tradition, cuisine and beverages, music and dancing, Baumann (2001). Hence, making festivals a solid platform whereby a country can easily showcase its cultural potentials to a greater audience.
Cultural tourism on the other hand, is a type of special interest tourism involving leisure travel for the purpose of viewing or experiencing the distinctive characteristics of a place, its peoples, and its products or productions. According to the UNESCO world report (2009), wide range of destinations and cultural activities fall under the umbrella heading of cultural tourism: visits to UNESCO World Heritage Sites (e.g. China’s Great Wall, Chichén-Itzá); tours of historic cities, architectural sites, cathedrals, and battlefields; excursions to museums; trips to sample typical regional foods; tours of ethnic neighbourhoods; travel to local music festivals and cultural performances; visits to indigenous villages or distinctive cultural landscapes. Although cultural tourists’ motives vary, some common themes include the desire to experience an “authentic” cultural landscape, interest in other cultures, and an interest in scenery that fosters an engagement with the past. Our case study, the Limbe FESTAC, is a true representation and apt platform where cultural tourism takes place.
Globally speaking there are renowned international festivals like the Rio Carnival in Brazil; and in the Africa continent, we have the Joburg Festival in South Africa and the Calabar carnival in Nigeria dubbed Africa’s biggest street party.
In Cameroon, some popular festivals include; the African Music Market which regroups musicians; Nyem-Nyem Festival celebrated by the people of Ngaoundere to commemorate the Nyem Nyem’s resistance to German control;
Festival National des Arts et de la Culture (FENAC) – the largest in the country which is aimed at showcasing Cameroon’s cultural diversity and promote a rich heritage of the people; the Ngondo festival with its main goal is to showcase the arts and culture of the Sawa people who mainly inhabit the region’s coastal areas and
FESTAC organised by the Limbe city council to explore the cosmopolitan town’s cultural diversity. Due to the country’s cultural diversity and potentials, Cameroon has earned the appellation ‘Africa in miniature.’
The Limbe city council has been able to brand the city and make it a port of call for almost all tourists entering the country.
Festivals concentrate a number of activities or products around a specific theme, within a well-defined time frame thereby creating a critical mass of experience that may appeal to the tourist.
Festivals provide an opportunity to showcase the destination’s rich intangible heritage, local traditions, ethnic backgrounds and cultural landscape.
Community festivals in particular celebrate both group and place identity to ensure that their special appeal stems from the innate uniqueness of each event.
The Limbe FESTAC is a perfect example of such event. It provides an opportunity for nationals as well as international tourists to experience authentic cultural ambience, feel and touch cultural products; both tangible and intangible; meet local residence and participate in something authentically indigenous.
Arts and culture events are popularly viewed as vectors par excellence of the celebration, exhibitions, promotion and commercialization of cultures.
Events such as festivals, carnivals, art workshops amongst others are fertile fora through which specific cultural artifacts and industries are encouraged and exhibited for multidimensional appreciation.
Besides having various commercial components, these events are in theory, conceived to facilitate the nurturing and potential glorification of various values (particularly the positives ones); shared by the cultures being exhibited through the event, (Endong, 2017).
Festivals are a portal to portray who a people are; to showcase their know-how and what they can offer.
These festivals provide an opportunity to promote a destination’s rich tangible and intangible heritage; local traditions, ethnic backgrounds and cultural landscape.
As such, these events are thought to provide an opportunity for not only the locals, but international tourists to experience authentic cultural ambience, meet local residents and partake in something authentically indigenous (Getz, 1989).
However, the researcher believes that the Limbe FESTAC as a national festival has not been given much national attention as it deserves; it is not well known across the National territory.
Considering the fact that, the town of Limbe is a cosmopolitan town which regroups people from all 10 regions of Cameroon as well as foreigners from neighbouring countries such as Nigeria, Ghana, Togo and Benin, the Limbe FESTAC ought to be the talk of the country when organized; considering the vast cultural diversity involved.
Again it does not enjoy enough national and international media coverage to showcase both the intangible and tangible cultural aspects which are potentials to ensure or boost cultural tourism. Some festivals in Cameroon such as the Ngondo festival organized by the Saw people is sometimes aired live on National Tv.
Whereas, during the Limbe FESTAC such media attention is not given nor is the Limbe FESTAC given that pride of place on national TV. It is against this background that the researcher sets out to investigate the role of the Limbe FESTAC in cultural tourism.
Based on the problem statement, the study will be guided by the following research questions;
1) What are the different cultural products of the Limbe FESTAC; how can these be classified?
2) To what extent do these cultural products influence cultural tourism?
3) What are the challenges faced by the Limbe FESTAC in cultural tourism?
The objectives of this study are sub-divided into main and specific objectives.
The main objective of the study is to investigate the role of the Limbe FESTAC on cultural tourism.
The study will be guided by the following specific objectives;
- To identify the different cultural products presented during FESTAC.
- To assess the role of these cultural products on cultural tourism development.
- To examine the challenges faced by the Limbe FESTAC in promoting cultural tourism
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