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).
Neo-classical economists and development experts contend that unlike factor driven technology based development, local communities in Africa and other parts of the Third World have a comparative advantage in the development of tourism and other non-technology based economic sectors. The development of tourism amongst local communities is, therefore, perceived as fitting quite well with the ‘natural process of development based on comparative advantage’ (Brohman 1996). This argument is based on the premise that local communities, particularly in Africa, should mainly specialise in primary exports, including tourism, where they have comparative advantage rather than depending on technology based economic sectors that do not conform with the principles of comparative advantage in the global market demand.
Particularly, local communities in sub-Saharan Africa are usually perceived as having a comparative advantage in the development of tourism. This is due to the fact that they possess unique indigenous cultural and nature-based attractions that the Western tourists lack in their transformed and urbanised environments (Butler and Hinch 1996; Cohen 1996). Many Western tourists are haggling for these forms of touristic attractions in order to escape from the perceived monotony of everyday life in the often over-crowded and congested urban conglomerates. In this regard, tourists want to travel to other places, albeit temporarily, in order to escape from the monotony of routine life and are, therefore, looking for alternative environments that are perceived as having fascinating indigenous cultures and pristine nature attractions (Smith 1995; Sharpley 1999).
1.1 Background of Study
According to (Sharpley:2003:p34) Community development in Nigeria eliminate suffering of like illiteracy, and sickness thus improving the standard of living of the people within the community for instance, the introduction of compulsory free education programme (development project) in Nigeria during Olusegun Obasanjo’s regime partially to eradicate suffering of illiteracy at the community level. It also “Community development” helps to improve the economic social and cultural conditions of communities, thus enabling members of community to contribute meaningfully to the achievement of national objectives. More to it Community development helps to eradicate or reduce abject poverty in Nigeria. The provision of social amenities like water, roads, electricity and hospitals, valued culture which are part of development in the community can lead to the reduction of abject poverty in the country. Because when hospitals are being built in a particular community, the members of the community and a valued culture celebrated citizen will travel to witness the event and there by bringing development and high standard of living of the people. It also serves as a means of providing social amenities like roads, water, bridge and social amenities.
Ife and Fiske (2006) developed a model to illustrate the dimensions of service provision understood from a Community Development perspective, which incorporates Perkins’ emphasis on indigenous leadership and the historically colonial connotations of some Community Development efforts. And according to Okiy community development is a basis for economic development and information is an important ingredient in development process. People of the community whether literate or not should have access to any kind of information which will help them to become capable and productive in their social and political obligation, to become better informed citizens generally. Okiy (2003,1).
On the other hand, when the communities is not developed, there will be vices that pulls a society down. As Yahya opined: Lack of development has a positive correlation with the neglect of rural areas. Rural neglect brings negative consequences such as exodus of rural dwellers to urban areas, with resulting problems of unemployment, crime, prostitution, child labour, insecurity, money laundering, bribery, poverty proliferation of shanty living areas, spread of diseases and overstretching of the facilities and infrastructure in the urban areas. Yahya (2009).
From the review of the community development and its trend by previous research work, the researcher can conclude of say that community development is the grass root to development and sustainability to the community, through which community growth commence. As stated by Okiy (2013) that lack of community development brings about vice and disorder in the community, the researcher sees a need to drive development to undeveloped community by uplifting the community culture and values among the nation in order to avoid all these vices.
Cultural tourism is therefore a kind of travel to experience and in some cases participate in a vanishing, eating in rustic shades with calabash, festivals like Ituaka of Ahiara Ofiri (from umuagbom community) folk performances, arts and crafts, Durbars e.t.c. Culture tends to standout in Nigeria tourism sector as Nigeria houses about 375 ethnic groups and each of these ethnic group has her own cultural heritage which describe the total way of life of the particular group. Before the coming of the Western culture, importance was attached to the participation in any cultural festival like Eyiri-eyi Obohia, Iriji Mbaise (New yam festival). In those days, the Eyiri-eyi Obohia, Iriji Mbaise has become a national religious institution and its anniversaries are celebrated with grand festivities. The mysteries connected with it are held sacred and inviolable.
Nowadays, these beliefs have changed, people have not been participating in Eyiri-eyi Obohia, Iriji Mbaise Festival especially and this is due to some factors that are connected with the coming of the Western culture and the various religious beliefs. Sustainable tourism is development of tourism in a manner which is non-damaging to the environment and which contribute to social and economic benefits of the host community observed by Cliff Moughtin (1996) in urban design.
The term Festival is simply defined as “THEME PUBLIC CELEBRATION”. This term is rich in tradition and meaning with many anthropological and sociological studies, documenting the close link between festivals, religion and community. Nigeria’s cultural heritage is woven from threads of history and diversity, legend and conquest. The country aptly described as the ‘Giant of Africa’ is richly endowed with ecological and cultural resources, which are of universal recognition. The richness and diversity of the Nigeria culture is a manifestation of the socio-cultural differences of the over 250 ethnic groups in the country. Tourism investment atmosphere is now conducive given the abundant resources available, large market, enthronement of enduring democracy and a package of incentive put together by government.
There are many traditional festivals observed in the State (IMO). Each community has different festivals celebrated in honor of ancient deities or to mark an important event in the history of the area. There are different festivals to usher in the harvest season, the most popular being the Ahiajoku Festival, which is observed in all the farming communities. Traditional music and dances include Abiigbo, Ekpe, Ikoro, Okonko, Mmanwu, etc. These are the Top 10 Tourist Destinations in Imo State:
1. Imo Wonderlake Resort and Conference Center, Oguta
2. Abadaba Lake
3. The Source of Urashi River
4. The Amadioha Shrine
5. The Ancestral Home of King Jaja of Opobo
6. The Blue Obana Lake
7. Ekwe and Ebenator Spring
8. Iyi Ogidi Spring
9. Iyi Mgbede Spring
10. The Nekede Zoo & Gardens
And a list of festivals within the state.
- Eyiri-eyi Obohia
- Iwakwa of Ihitte Afor Ukwu – Every 3 years
- Inunkwu of Oparanadim
- Eyiri-eyi Obohia, Iriji Mbaise (New yam festival) – August 15th every year
- Iwa –Akwa performed by Okponkume community
- Ituaka of Ahiara Ofiri
- Most of these festivals take place within the last quarter of every year.
The research will focus on the Eyiri-eyi Obohia, Iriji Mbaise (New yam festival) as its primary point of view, since this festival is common among other community across the state (Imo).
1.2 Statement of Research
Tourism researchers (Bachmann 1988; Debbage 1990; Agarwal 1997) contend that in most instances, local communities in Third World countries, particularly in Africa, are not appropriately represented in the planning, design, development and management of their respective indigenous cultural and nature based resources for tourism. As a consequence, members of respective indigenous communities are usually not appropriately represented in the commodification process in which local cultural or nature based resources are transformed into tourism products to be presented and sold to tourists. Thus, there are a number of critical issues as concerns the development of tourism in most developing countries, particularly in Africa, which call into question the efficacy of tourism as a tool for community development and socio-economic. These issues include foreign domination and dependency, inequitable distribution and development, cultural and environmental degradation, and loss of control and cultural identity, as well as the over-arching role of the state in the control and management of tourism resources (Bachmann 1988; Sinclair 1990; Sindiga 2000; Akama 2004).
Therefore, the researcher has identify this problem among the people and community of Umuagbom of Imo state, and thereby seek to carry out this research so as to highlight cultural tourism and its efficiency in community development.
1.3 Aim and Objectives of the Study
The aim of this study is to investigate the significance of cultural tourism to community development.
The specific objectives are to:
i. Identify the various festivals in the study area.
ii. Identify the groups that participate mostly in Eyiri-eyi Obohia, Iriji Mbaise (New yam festival).
iii. Identify barriers in participation.
iv. Evaluate the need for cultural tourism and its effect to community development.
iv. Identify the level of sustainability of each this cultural festival in the study area.
v. To identify the problem and challenges of cultural tourism to community development in Umuagbom community.
1.4 Research Question
- What is the level of significance of Umuagbom Cultural Festival to the development of Umuagbom?
- Can the level of civilisation of people determine the significance of Umuagbom cultural Festival to sustainable development of the community?
- Can the significance of Umuagbom cultural Festival to sustainable development be determined by the occupation of the people?
- How often do people from other community come for the Umuagbom cultural festival and is there any significance impact?
1.5 Research Hypothesis
Two important hypothesis was formulated and will be tested in this study, which will be accepted or rejected, if there is no significant difference in it (Hnull Halt).
H0 there is no significance relationship between cultural tourism to community development.
H0 propagating the image of Umuagbom cultural tourism will have no significance impact to Umuagbom community development.
1.6 Significance of the Study
This research report provides an extensive analysis and evaluation related to the cultural tourism in relation to community development and sustainability. This research work will also be of great significance to the end users, adhering to the suggestion and guideline will help promote the cooperate image of Umuagbom community cultural values.
• It details historical values for the Nigerian cultural tourism sector, along with forecast figures for 2016–2020
• It provides comprehensive analysis of travel and tourism demand for cultural heritage, festivals and tourism, with values for both the 2009–2015 review period and the 2016–2020 forecast period.
1.7 Justification of the Study
I want to justify this research work based on the objectives and the significance of this research work, what is within its coverage, this research work is with no doubt necessary to be carried out. Because if done will greatly highlight the importance of sustaining our cultural tourism that will contribute to the development of the nation and maintain an average inbound and outbound tourism.
1.8 Scope of the Study
This research work will be covering Umuagbom community cultural tourism and its effect to community. This research work will also look into two of Umuagbom community festivals. This research work will be compiled using 187 research respondents.
1.9 Conceptual framework
In a careful study and research on this topic, the research designed a conceptual framework for this study, using real life situation to map out the study.