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Ekiti to establish Bureau of Tourism Development on harnessing, developing tourism potential

Ekiti Government says it will establish a Bureau of Tourism Development that will focus mainly on harnessing and developing the state’s tourism potential and make the state the number one destination for tourists.

Biodun Oyebanji

Ekiti Government says it will establish a Bureau of Tourism Development that will focus mainly on harnessing and developing the state’s tourism potential and make the state the number one destination for tourists.

Governor Biodun Oyebanji who made this known in Ado-Ekiti said that his administration would partner with tourism development operators to develop the state’s local tourism sites.

Oyebanji, while receiving a team from the Nigeria Association of Tour Operators (NATOP) led by its President, Mrs Ime Udo, said that this was an effort to drive the state’s “shared prosperity agenda for the people”.

The governor said that tourism development remains a key component of his administration’s six-pillar development agenda.

According to him, it will be separated from the state Ministry of Arts, Culture and Tourism, as currently structured.

The governor said that it would become a stand-alone Bureau of Tourism, positioning the sector for thorough supervision and the right attention.

He said that the development of new tourism destinations in the state would help reduce the rate at which Nigerians were travelling abroad for adventure purposes.

Oyebanji said that his government was 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, Oyebanji said that tourism has a very huge potential to drive prosperity, employment and development of the state.

The governor promised to scale up security in the state, especially in all the tourist destinations to allay the fears of national and international tourists on security challenges.

He said that his government had designated Ikogosi, Ipole-Iloro and Efon-Alaaye as tourism corridors of the state.

“The state is also planning to build a Zoological Garden in the same axis as other interesting tourist sites will also be developed.

“Let me assure you of our partnership with your tourism organisation.

“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 Arts, Culture and Tourism. It’s 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,” Oyebanji said.

The governor said the state was deliberate toward ensuring that it develop its economy, noting, “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 realise 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 a profit because they are still investing,” Oyebanji said.

Earlier, Mrs Ime Udo, President of the Nigeria Association of Tour Operators (NATOP), said the team was in Ekiti to seek partnership with the government on the hosting of its tourism conference in the state and ways to develop its tourism destinations.

Udo said that the idea of hosting tourism conferences in states was to promote the tourism potential of such a state and sell it as a tourism destination nationally and internationally.

According to her, this will open up the state for investors to see the inherent potential in such a state.

“We recognise the enormous tourism potential in Ekiti, yet untapped. For us, as an association, it’s time to ensure that investors see what Ekiti has to offer, see the gold mine in Ekiti.

“It’s also time for us to see how we can drive arrivals into Ekiti State so that sites like Ikogosi Resort can become a bubbling one. It is unique; it’s a story we must tell the world,” Udo said.