By Ismail Omipidan
…As govt launches Osun tourism master plan
The Governor of the State of Osun, Adegboyega Oyetola, on Thursday reiterated the administration’s determination to transform the economy of the State through huge investment in culture and tourism, saying Osun would soon become the United Arab Emirate of Nigeria.
He said the administration was determined to provide leadership in domestic and international tourism in the country, adding that workable culture and tourism policies had been incorporated as part of Culture and Tourism for Sustainable Economy agenda.
Governor Oyetola made the pledge at the official launch of Osun Tourism Master Plan: Culture and Tourism for Sustainable Economy (CUTOSEC).
He said the Master Plan was aimed at improving the potential in the culture and tourism sector for the development of the State, adding that the initiative involved a comprehensive template to expand the State’s economic diversification programme and improve its Internally Generated Revenue.
“It is our resolve as a government to deploy these potential into maximum use and turn our dear State into the United Arab Emirate of Nigeria.
“As tourism progressively raises its profile in national economic planning, there is a clear need to ensure that attention is paid to its long-term development potential.
“Such an approach demands comprehensive strategic planning for the industryâ€™s future. As a government, we are keying into that by laying a solid foundation for better Nigerian Tourism.
“Our development plan for tourism involves two time horizons â€“ the short and long terms. While Osun Sterling Tourism Vision (OSTOV) 30-30 is our short term agenda that we wish to achieve to lay a solid foundation for the perfect growth of tourism in the State, the Culture and Tourism for Sustainable Economy (CUTOSEC) is the long-term plan that will build on the achievements of Osun Sterling Tourism Vision 30-30 for permanent development of tourism.
“All our efforts today are to bring investors to this State for a mutually-beneficial engagement. Given its importance, the State has produced investment manual, developed a unique tourism investment model and published available investment opportunities in our sites like Olumirin Waterfall, Ayikunnugba Waterfall, Owala rivers, Kiriji war sites and other viable opportunities as part of the Culture and Tourism for Sustainable Economy documents.
“It is our resolve to develop a home-grown Public Private Partnerships Investment Model that will take care of the immediate needs of the stakeholders and pledge a promising future for the participants.
“Our model addresses the key issues of land, reward system, tax matters, etc., and provides the basis of relationship with communities, employment and social responsibility to the community. We are open for negotiations on our offer,” he added.
Governor Oyetola also disclosed the governnement’s plan to develop agri-tourism as part of efforts to strengthen local economy, create job opportunities and new businesses.
According to him, the development of agri-tourism would assist the government in its resolve to support the citizens, particularly the youth through promotion of training and certification programmes and introduction of young people to agriculture and environment.
While noting that the administration places high premium on youth, Governor Oyetola said, “We shall create wealth for them, rehabilitate those that deserve it, and use them not only as agents of resuscitation of our culture going into extinction, but as a tool to perpetuate our cultural heritage.
“We shall consciously encourage them to see tourism as a bailout of unemployment tangle.”
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Muhammed commended the administration of Governor Adegboyega Oyetola for developing the Master Plan, describing the initiative as a right step in the right direction.
Lai Muhammed who was represented by DG/CEO Centre for Blacks and African Arts and Civilisation (CBAAC), Hon. Oluwabunmi Ayobami Amao, said the initiative would go a long way to give a realistic direction in the development of tourist centres and make Osun the best destination.
According to him, the initiative would also help to unlock the numerous potential of the State for socio-economic development and by extension generate employment for the citizens.
In his welcome address, the Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Dr. Adebisi Obawale, said the huge economic gains awaiting investment in Culture and Tourism had compelled the immediate need for the master plan which would be funded through Public Private Partnership (PPP)
He said, “The abundant opportunities of our heritage and tourism potential and the inherent benefits, such as creating mass employment especially for our teeming youths, revenue generations, and socio-economic development of the arrays of sites locations and the State in general, have made this Government prioritise the sector as one of the economic pillars to drive the State economy.
“A few months ago, a team of investors and financial Institutions visited the State and having gone round some tourist attractions, were impressed by the enormous human, cultural and natural resources the State is bestowed with; and realising this, the team had since expressed her willingness and strong commitment to develop our tourism attractions to World-Class Destinations.”