(Feature) Alaghodaro: Arts, Culture and Tourism By Crusoe Osagie
Our vision for the Arts, Culture and Tourism sector is to develop the huge arts, culture and tourism assets that abound in Edo State to international standard.
Tourism is the highest employer of labour, providing one in every 10 jobs globally according to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO). It is a major instrument for environmental preservation and conservation and a major source of revenue through domestic and international tourist receipts.
The recognition of the power of tourism in transforming lives and the environment informed the decision of the Obaseki-led administration to make the sector a major plank of its 30-year growth vison for Edo State, which Alaghodaro Investment Summit is set to showcase.
The administration has set a 200, 000 jobs target to be created in the state and has identified 58 tourist sites that will be developed and re-positioned to produce some of these jobs.
The popular Benin Moat will be developed for tourist earnings and jobs, the annual Okpekpe Mountain Race that is fast growing in popularity and rating among sports enthusiasts, is receiving a boost.
The large un-spoilt water bodies criss-crossing the state, namely Orhionmwon, Ovia, Ogba, Ikpboba and other rivers in Edo Central and North Senatorial Districts are to be developed into world class beaches.
The annual Igue Festival, Igbabonelimi Masquerade, Aba Festival and other festivals will get their fair share of our new deal for the sector to attract more tourists to the state.
To provide the administrative framework for a more robust tourism sector, a tourism master plan is in the works and on completion, will provide clear guidelines for the participation of the various levels of government; federal, state and local, and role of the private sector, so that Edo State will receive its share of the over $1 trillion revenues that tourist destinations get yearly.
Experts believe that the clear delineation of roles will unlock the potential in the sector and attract domestic and international investments through the development of the large un-spoilt water bodies criss-crossing the state, namely: Orhionmwon, Ovia, Ogba, Ikpboba and other rivers in Edo Central and North Senatorial Districts, into world class beaches.
Our creative ingenuity that has for centuries, found expression in our bronze works, carvings, sculpture, rhythmic dance steps, oral tradition, highly sought after songs and chants and dress designs. These prized heritage bequeathed to us by our forebears will be repackaged for more global appeal and foreign exchange receipts.
The institutional framework of the tourism masterplan will support the ranking and grading of our hotels, restaurants and other recreation and leisure places, to compete favourably with similar facilities in the best tourist destinations across the world.
Speaking at the 2017 World Tourism Day, marked on September 27, 2017, Governor Obaseki said, “We have the best climate for investments in flora and fauna ((ecotourism); zoo, green parks, gardens and wildlife parks. Our location in Nigeria is strategic as you can access any part of the country with ease by land, water or air and we have clearly one of the richest cultures which is a major source of pride to Edo people.”
Other areas currently receiving attention in the state, to pave way for a robust tourism sector is the sanitisation of intra-city transport system which used to be very chaotic.
The revamp of the Edo State Traffic Management Agency (EDSTMA), the ongoing adjustments of passengers’ pick up and drop off points by taxis and buses in the state and the removal of barriers to free movement in Benin City are deliberate measures taken by our administration to deliver a socially sane city and prepare the state for the execution of the state’s transport master plan.
Edo is ripe and ready for investors,who are searching for a safe investment haven. Alaghodaro Investment Summit has a special session on the arts, culture and tourism sector and we urge you to join us in the development conversations.
Crusoe Osagie, Senior Assistant,Media and Communication Strategy to Governor Godwin Obaseki writes from Benin.