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Returned Artefacts from European Museums could Boost Africa’s Travel and Tourism 

In June, the Smithsonian in the US undertook to return 29 Benin bronzes held in its National Museum of African Art collection, in July Germany signed an agreement with Nigeria to cover over 1000 objects in its museums and In August the UK’s Horniman Museum announced it would return 72 artifacts. Nigeria’s Legacy Restoration Trust has played an important role in this process by providing a politically neutral entity into which bronze can be transferred – both the Nigerian government and Benin’s royal family have unsuccessfully claimed them in the past. It could offer a blueprint for Nigeria and other African countries eager to reclaim both their history and the promises they made with tourism dollars. Museums are a significant tourist attraction and the world’s top 100 museums attracted a total of 71m visitors during 2021 – despite the COVID-19 pandemic and continued lockdown restrictions, according to art newspaper. The Musée du Louvre in Paris once again tops the list of most-visited museums, attracting 2.8m visitors in 2021 (still below pre-pandemic levels that saw 9.6m visitors in 2019) went). While the full range of economic benefits to the travel and tourism industries is difficult to pin down, Statista projects the French travel and tourism market will reach $16.55bn in 2022. Nigeria’s travel and tourism industry, which saw significant losses from the Covid-19 pandemic but managed to keep domestic tourism afloat, could use such a boost.