Edo Tourism Master Plan to Boost Revenue Generation and Create Jobs
By Violet Osatohanmwen Obamwonyi
The Edo State Government, set to transform the State into a major tourist destination of the world, launched the Edo State Tourism Master Plan, which was presented by members of the State’s Tourism Steering Committee on the 27th of September 2022, at the New Festival Hall, Government House, Benin City. The Master Plan, which is a new driver of sustainable economic growth and viability, is designed to generate N2 trillion to the State in the next 10 years.
Recall that Governor Godwin Obaseki, while addressing Heads of MDAs and Appointees at the recent leadership retreat, declared that alternative sources of income have to be identified and explored, as states can no longer rely on crude oil allocation from the Federal Government to meet the growing needs of the citizens. Mr. Obaseki therefore identified tourism as one of the key sectors to be explored in driving the State’s economy forward.
Declaring the occasion open, Mr. Obaseki, represented by the Deputy Governor, Rt. Hon. Comrade Philip Shaibu, urged citizens of the State to contribute their own quota towards the State Government’s vision to leverage the rich and unique cultural heritage of the State, in order to improve the socio-economic growth and development of the State.
According to Obaseki, “Today, we present the Edo State Tourism Master Plan to you. We have departed from oil as we are diversifying our economy. Tourism is one of the sectors we are paying critical attention to, in order to change the face of the State in terms of infrastructure and revenue generation. We are leveraging our heritage which is unique to us. Our artifacts are scattered all around the world. Edo is a home of sports and we are bringing back sports to encourage tourism in the State.”
“We have created a business-friendly environment and provided infrastructure and security. We have a rich cultural heritage and we are going to take advantage of what we have to boost the tourism sector so as to grow our revenue. We urge our stakeholders in the hospitality business to join hands with the government as it is a win-win situation for us. We are enjoining them to take advantage of the emerging economy. 10% of the world GDP is on tourism and Nigeria will contribute through Edo State to make it 20 percent”, Obaseki added.
In his address, the Edo State Head of Service and Chairman of Edo State Tourism Steering Committee, Anthony Okungbowa Esq., noted that the tourism project is geared towards attracting visitors and investors from international, regional and domestic markets to the State.
Okungbowa said: “September 27th is celebrated globally as World Tourism Day, and the theme for 2022 which is “Rethinking Tourism” is quite apt at this momentous period of our national growth and development, when our source of national revenue and sustenance is at an unprecedented low. It has become a national imperative to find alternative sources of revenue. Current tourism traffic into Nigeria is less than 50,000 per year compared to 70,000 recorded in one month in Kenya. The target of this tourism project is to attract no less than 1 million visitors per annum from international, regional and domestic markets to our State. Research has also shown that the total contribution of travel and tourism to the global economy is about $5.81trillion.”
“For tourists, tourism is indeed a religion, and as a people, we must take advantage of that. As we speak, the World Tourism Expo is taking place in Lagos Nigeria, showing that indeed Nigeria is beginning to take good initial steps to occupy its deserved seat on the Global Tourism Table”, Okungbowa stressed.
Commending the State Governor on vision to make Edo a global tourism destination, Okungbowa noted: “Long before the United Nations World Tourism Organization released this year’s theme, our visionary Governor, Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki had seen ahead and envisioned Edo State as a state with tourism as the fulcrum of its Economic growth and development, and had therefore in December 2021, inaugurated the Tourism Steering Committee to, among other things, spearhead the development of a tourism Master Plan to actualize this vision in the State.”
Okungbowa stressed that the tourism master plan is also aimed at resuscitating creativity among indigenes and residents of the State. “Our vision is to rebuild the fundamentals of the Edo economy by harnessing the potential of our history, heritage, arts & culture. The plan is to rekindle the creative spirit that inspired our forebears to create valuable artefacts which can be seen in major museums across the world. This is what we believe the beautiful line in our National Anthem ‘the labour of our heroes past shall never be in vain’ actually connotes”, Okungbowa emphasised.
Also delivering his presentation titled, ‘Rethinking Tourism, ’the Ultimate Chairman, Edo Tourism Master Plan Steering Committee, Bismarck Rewane, stated that Edo is set to generate more revenue and create more jobs through the tourism master plan. According to Bismarck, “Edo State with a population of 5million, with about 500,000 voters in the last election, will generate N2 trillion from tourism alone, which is 10 percent of what the entire Nigeria budgets for tourism in a year. Investment in infrastructure and construction will result in job creation of at least 2,000 direct jobs and 15,000 indirect jobs in the immediate future”.
Highpoint of the event was the presentation of the State’s Tourism Master Plan which has been designed to improve the socio-economic well-being of indigenes and residents in the State.