By Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City
As the world celebrates World Tourism DayÂ on Wednesday, the Edo State Government has unveiled plans to host stakeholders in the tourism sector and parade her ecotourism assets to local and foreign investors.
The state Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, said the event would put on the world stage the huge tourism wealth that God has endowed Edo State with.Â
According to him, â€œWe have the best climate for investments in flora and fauna; zoo, green parks, gardens and wildlife parks. Our people are very hospitable and have been playing host to several tribes since the pre-colonial days, our location in Nigeria is strategic as you can access any part of the country with ease by land or air and we have clearly one of the richest cultures which is a major source of pride to Edo people.â€
The governor explained that â€œtourism as the highest employer of labour worldwide, employing one in every ten jobs globally, holds a lot of opportunities for job creation and environmental preservation. We promised 200,000 jobs in the first instance during our electioneering campaign and are determined to revamp the tourism sector where some of the jobs will be created.Â
â€œWe have water bodies that we intend to develop into world class beaches, the popular Benin Moat needs to be developed for tourism earnings, we have the Okpekpe Mountain Race that is fast growing in popularity and rating among sports enthusiasts, and currently, work is ongoing on the development of 58 tourist sites and destinations in the state to boost our local and foreign tourist receipts and enhance the quality of life in the state,â€ the governor said.
He noted that 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.Â
â€œThe revamp of the Edo State Traffic Management Agency (EDSTMA), the ongoing adjustments of passengersâ€™ 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,â€ Obaseki added.
He assured that the next big deal for the Edo Tourism Sector is a blueprint which is being designed to clearly spell out the roles of supervisory agencies and ministries as well as investors as required by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (WTO), so that Edo State will receive its share of the overÂ $1Â trillion revenues that tourist destinations get yearly.
â€œOur hotels, restaurants, and other recreation and leisure places will be ranked, the jobs will be formalised and captured in our employment data bank as required by the industry,â€ he added.
The governor further said the theme for this yearâ€™s World Tourism Day celebration: â€œSustainable Tourism – A Tool for Developmentâ€ is apt, considering the resolve by governments to sustain growth in areas they enjoy comparative and competitive advantage, protect the environment and the interests of stakeholders in the industry.