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FILM AS A TOOL FOR TOURISM PROMOTION: A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF SELECTED NOLLYWOOD AND ALBERT BROCCOLLI’S JAMES BOND FILMS
1.1 Background to the Study
Over the years since its introduction as a medium of mass communication, film has been adopted as a medium to send developmental messages to the people. Davis (2006) was of the opinion that films about black people, especially feature films contributed in creating awareness among black people in America on the history and culture of Africans. This is a pointer to the fact that film canplay an important part in creating awareness. Rogers (2006) in a bid to project the importance of film as an instructional tool encouraged the use of documentary films to serve as teaching aid for teaching black Latin-American culture. This position is not however restricted to Latin America alone; it is applicable to all parts of the world. With emphasis on the role of film in development, especially in developing countries, Hopkins (1971) explained that “developing countries, anxious to accelerate the processes of economic and social change will offer their people a better life, have turned increasingly to film as a means of supplementing or replacing traditional communication forms.” (p.5). Sauer (1992) further added that “Film could be a strong tool for development. It can be used to contribute to a feeling of nationhood, as a voice for national planning, to help teach necessary skills, to extend the effective market, to help people look to the future, and to prepare people to play a role in nation building.” (p.25).
In Nigeria, film has been used since the colonial era to enlighten people about government programmes and also by missionaries to serve as a means to pass evangelical messages. Alawode and Sunday (2013) agree with this position by saying:
The films shown by the colonial masters and the missionaries were the means of propagating their government and religion. During the Second World War, films were used widely by the British government for propaganda effort to make people in the colonies to understand why they should fight in the wars. Mobile cinemas were used all over Nigeria to communicate the news of the successes of allies and defeat of the Germans. (p.114).
This approach gained acceptance even after independence as the various governments (state and federal) decided to use film as a medium for passing historical messages to the public. The use of film in propagation of messages became enhanced by the introduction of television broadcasting in Nigeria. Government capitalized on this medium to pass across messages on agriculture, religion, history and other issues bordering on national development and cultural integration.
Film messages are embedded in their themes. A theme is a dominant idea made concrete through its representation by the characters, action and imagery of the film. Rea and Irvin (2010) describe it as a central concept, idea, or symbolic meaning in a story. Rabiger (2008) explains that “The themeof a work is the topic of its discourse or representation.”(p.189). For a film about the son of a wealthy Nigerianwho ends up as a New York taxi driver, it might be, ‘Beggars must learn they cannot be choosers.’ If the film is about an unknown actor auditioning for a musical, it might be, ‘Fake it till you make it.’ Borrowing from these examples, a film with a tourism theme will deliberately showcase the tourism potentials of a country, either through exotic sceneries, historical features, people and so on. This is because the meaning of a film defines its theme. It has been widely recognized in tourism literature that destination image greatly influences tourist destination choice.
Butler (1990) suggests that films can influence the travel preference of those who expose themselves to the destination attributes and create a favourable destination image through their representation. Images of destinations play a significant role in influencing tourists’ decision-making process, which will become a strong basis for such tourists to decide to visit the destination (Echtner & Ritchie 1991; Gartner 1989). The more favourable the image of the destination, the greater the likelihood of being selected as a destination choice (Chon 1990; Um 1993). Film is capable of providing knowledge of certain aspects of a country such as nature, culture and people which result in the construction of the attitudes towards the country. An interest in the nation and its positive image can eventually lead to an actual visit to the country (Iwashita, 2006).
Persuasive economic arguments have been presented regarding the money and jobs brought to a town or region during the filming process, for example, $US21m and 183 full-time jobs were provided to the people of Illinois during the filming of A Thousand Acres.As explained by O’Connor and Bolan (2010), “Films and television series provide us with a window into other places that broaden our knowledge and can fuel our desire to travel.What has become known as film induced tourism has begun to gather momentum as an area of both academic research and industry interest.” (p.27)
According to Reijnders (2010), “James Bond films have appeared, resulting in an extensive, international network of 007 locations. The tourist industry makes full use of the power of these locations to attract tourists.” (p.369). As a demonstration of this statement, the island of Ko Tapu in Thailand was just a small fishing community before 1970 until EON Productions, producers of James Bond decided to shoot the Man With the Golden Gun on the island. According to Reijinders (2010) “When this film, which was popular around the world, appeared, Ko Tapu became internationally famous almost overnight. Within a few years, it had become one of the top tourist attractions in Thailand, complete with James Bond tours, t-shirts and assorted souvenirs. 'James Bond Island', as it is now known, attracts over 1000 visitors a day.” (p.269). James Bond Island is not the only unique case that exists. There are other locations that are known entirely or partly thanks to their appearance in a James Bond film. Certainly, the fact that locations become internationally recognized as soon as they appear or are mentioned in bright colours in a James Bond movie suggests that film is a strong agent of tourism. Ian Flemming, the writer of the James Bond novel, from where the movie adaptation of the James Bond series originated said in one of his quotes on James Bond that the first law for a secret agent is to get his geography right. From all the James Bond movies produced so far, it is obvious that the knowledge of geography has seen James Bond travelling from one part of the world to the other in an adventurous and exotic lifestyle. With these travels always come a revelation of the beauty of such countries visited hence, always leaving an impression of visiting such countries in the minds of the viewers.
The Nigerian film industry which is the largest in Africa and the second largest in the world (according to Fortune Magazine in 2015 and the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) magazine on growth and development in 2016) can benefit a lot from the concept of film induced tourism. If government agencies and private organisations will partner with film makers to showcase the various tourism potentials in the country (like the Olumo Rock. Yankari Games Reserve, Obudu Cattle Ranch, Erin Ijesha Waterfalls, Idanre Hills, Kajuru Castle, Sukur civilisation among others), a strong revenue base would have been created for many states. But how can film makers showcase the tourism potentials? What are the techniques that are adopted in the James Bond movies that Nigerian film makers can look into? This leads us to the crux of this thesis.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The Nigerian film industry is the fastest growing film industry in Africa. Oh (2014) explained that “The Nigerian film industry, also known as “Nollywood,” produces about 50 movies per week, second only to India’s Bollywood and ahead of Hollywood.” (p.1). Nollywood films have enjoyed viewership from all parts of the world. How does the world see Nigeria in the face of Nollywood, considering the fact that the mass media is supposed to mirror the society? The film industry in Nigeria has in some ways projected the Nigerian culture to the world. However, critics like Opeyemi (2008) have argued that some themes in Nollywood films portray the Nigerian society in bad light. With ladies scantily dressed and living like prostitutes or gold diggers who will do anything to get money even as far as snatching their best friend’s boy friend. Njoku (2009) gave his account of an interview he had with two Kenyan filmmakers, Mercy Murugi and Janet Kanini-muiva “they asserted that judging from Nollywood movies, they have watched so far, many Kenyans have the impression that Nigeria is a traditional home of witches.” As if that is not enough, some critics are of the opinion that the themes are going a bit away from the values of the Nigerian society. Ibbi (2014) explained that one of the common complaints by many Nigerians is that Nollywood is gradually introducing some dose of pornography, a total deviation from the culture of Nigerians. This was captured by Oyetimi and Adebayo (2013) who described the reaction of Nigerians thus: “It was therefore an unpretentious and spontaneous irritation by the Nigerian audience that welcomed such gradual and unchecked introduction of pornography into Nollywood movies.” These are some concerns associated with Nollywood films.
Away from complaints by members on the negative themes in Nollywood films, there have been so many cries by state governors across the country over dwindling revenues from the federation accounts and the need for states to boost their revenue bases through internally generated revenues. Tourism is a big money spinner around the world with countries especially those in the Caribbean relying on it for revenue. Films with tourism themes have been known to transform the fortunes of many countries. The popular media of the day influences the appeal of travel destinations and activities through constructing or reinforcing particular images of those destinations, and acting as ‘markers’ (MacCannell, 1999). A research conducted by Olsberg SPL (2007), consultant to the media and creative industries, reveals that several locations around the UK have benefitted from films.
With versed tourism potentials in the country, there is the need to go extra miles in projecting these potentials to the world. Film is a medium that has gained grounds all over the country and with the presence of Nollywood channels on many pay TV platforms, there is the need to partner with filmmakers in order to achieve success in the direction of projecting tourism. What are the respective strategies employed by producers of James Bond films that has continued to attract tourists to the destinations projected? What are Nigerian filmmakers expected to add to the content their productions in order to add tourism flavour? This is coming at a time that the government has started clamouring for film makers to think of producing films with tourism themes so that investors can be wooed to destinations across the country