Visit Edo: Africa’s Emerging Tourism Destination
By Wisdom Agbonta
Tourism according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), is a social, cultural, and economic phenomenon that involves the movement of people and their activities to countries or places out of their usual location for personal or business purposes.
That Edo State is a tourist destination blessed with very rich cultural heritage, hospitality industry, and abundant creative talents, is only stating the obvious.
The State currently parades a plethora of socio-cultural empowerment programmes as coordinated by the Ministry of Arts, Culture, Tourism and Diaspora Affairs and the Edo State Skills Development Agency (EdoJobs) with the Governor’s commitment to diversifying the economy by harnessing the numerous potentials that abound in the tourism sector of the State.
The Governor Godwin Obaseki administration is very much focused and committed to providing the infrastructures needed for the development of tourism in the State. The sector is thriving now because the government is determined to rekindle the creative spirit which inspired the forebears in some quarters like Igun Street, to create valuable artefacts in times past.
As part of his vision, the Governor embarked on several projects to rebuild the fundamentals of the State’s economy by harnessing the potentials of its rich socio-cultural heritage.
The ongoing Edo Museum of West African Art (EMOWAA) project is part of a much broader project, the Benin Cultural District. This is to support the preservation of West African heritage and culture, as well as empower contemporary creative artists by providing infrastructure, research and education, including career-building experiences for professionals in the cultural and creative world.
To enable youths in the State to discover and fully actualise their potentials, the Sir Victor Uwaifo Creative Hub and Sound Stage was established. The Hub which is well equipped with state-of-the-art production facilities, attracts content creators from around the world to leverage the numerous opportunities in the State.
Similarly, the annual Okpekpe 10-kilometres road race, that attracts world-class runners from around the world, is another avenue for the State to showcase its unique tourist sites that depict great beauty.
Governor Obaseki has undoubtedly made tremendous strides in boosting the tourism sector of the State. The just concluded Edo State International Film Festival (ESIFF) is an attestation that Edo is the emerging tourism destination in Africa. The Festival which was organised by the State Government in collaboration with stakeholders, had participants from over 94 countries across the globe.
Undoubtedly, Edo is a business-friendly destination for local and international visitors. The Benin City Mall which is already sold out will house restaurants, entertainment center, a free digital library, world-class lounges among others. Beyond shopping, the mall will serve as a place for loved ones to spend time together and have fun.
The light-up Edo project, site restoration, renovation and beautification and road construction amongst others, are part of the strategic plan to showcase the beauty of Edo to the world. The hospitality of the people is top-notch, and the local cuisines are excellent. Certainly, it will give visitors a unique experience.