In its efforts to advance economic development through tourism, Ekiti State Government has disclosed plans to establish a bureau of tourism development that would focus mainly on harnessing and developing the state’s tourism potentials and make Ekiti number one destination of choice for tourists.
The Governor of Ekiti State, Mr Biodun Oyebanji who disclosed this on Wednesday in Ado-Ekiti also said his administration would partner with tourism development operators that would help develop its local tourism sites in an effort to drive its shared prosperity agenda for the people.
The Governor while receiving a team from the Nigeria Association of Tour Operators (NATOP) led by its President, Mrs Ime Udo, in his office said tourism development remains a key component of his administration’s six- pillar development agenda would be separated from the Ministry of Arts, Culture and Tourism as currently structured and would become a stand alone Bureau of Tourism, positioning the sector for thorough supervision and the right attention .
He noted that the development of new tourism destinations in the state would help reduce the rate at which Nigerians travel abroad for adventure purposes, adding that his government is working assiduously to transform the state into a tourism hub by exploring and promoting the potential that abounds in Ekiti.
While noting that the state has thriving and viable tourism platforms to attract visitors and also create jobs and business opportunities, Governor Oyebanji stressed that tourism has a very huge potential to drive prosperity, employment, and development of the state.
Governor Oyebanji promised to scale up security in the state, especially in all the tourist destinations to allay fears of national and international tourists on security challenges.
He stated further that his government had designated Ikogosi, Ipole-Iloro and Efon-Alaaye as tourism corridors of the state, adding that the state is also planning to build a Zoological Garden in the same axis as other interesting tourists sites would also be developed.
“Let me assure you of our partnership with your tourism organization. Tourism development is one of the six pillars we are working with and it’s not accidental because I know the importance of tourism development as a government, we are going to sever it from the Ministry of Art, Culture and Tourism, its going to stand alone because I want the head to report to me directly, I don’t want it to be encumbered with the civil service protocol. We are going to have a bureau for tourism with a Director-General.
“We are deliberate in Ekiti state to ensure that we develop our economy and tourism is a sector that had been neglected for a very long time because it belongs to the soft side of development. People actually don’t realize that tourism has very huge potential to drive prosperity, employment, and development.
“The experiment in Ikogosi has worked when the state partners with the private sectors, we are excited with what is going on in Ikogosi and we are providing infrastructure for them to ensure that they are able to make profit because they are still investing.
Earlier, the President of the Nigeria Association of Tour Operators (NATOP), Mrs Ime Udo said the team was in Ekiti state to seek partnership with the government on the hosting of its tourism conference in the state and ways to develop its tourism destinations.
Mrs Udo also stated that the idea of hosting tourism conferences in states was to promote the tourism potentials of such states and sell it as a tourism destination nationally and internationally as well as open up the state for investors for them to see the inherent potential in such states.
She added, “We recognize the enormous tourism potentials in Ekiti state yet untapped, and for us as an association, its time for us to ensure that investors see what Ekiti state has to offer, see the gold mine in Ekiti state. It’s also time for us to see how we can drive arrivals into Ekiti state so that sites like the Ikogosi resort can become bubbling ones. It is unique, it’s a story we must tell the world.”
Also at the event were the Special Adviser to the Governor on Investment, Trade and Industry, Mrs Tayo Adeola, and the Director-General, Ekiti State Development, and Investment Promotion Agency, Mr Ayo Aribidara.