Ooni of Ife urges government to intensify tourism investment

Yinka Salaam, Osogbo

A foremost Yoruba traditional ruler, the Ooni of Ife in has called on Nigerian Government to intensify investments in tourism, saying tourism is capable of bailing the country out of economic recession.

Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi made this call at the unveiling of the 2016 Olojo Festival Logo at his Palace to kick-start the annual event.

Olojo is one of the oldest festivals in Ife and celebrated all over Yorubaland to commemorate Ogun, the god of iron, noted for creativity.

“What we are doing is indeed novel, we have improved the branding and we want to show the land mark and the uniqueness of Ile-Ife as a tourist centre. 

“Both government and private entrepreneurs should begin to use tourism for unity and economic development. Tourism is about movement. It is like a mandate that draws people from every part of the world. 

“It is a product that will provide lasting solution to economic challenges and bail us out of economic recession. We should not rely on the downsize sector alone,” the monarch said

The State Governor, Rauf Aregbesola noted that entrepreneurs’ involvement is necessary for cultural renaissance and socio-economic development.

He urged entrepreneurs to benefit from the various tourist centres in Ile-Ife as they are capable of making Osun one of the richest states in Nigeria.

Explaining that Ile-Ife has no fewer than 12 tourist centres of international standards, he said many countries now generate revenues that range from $20.2bn to $177.2 billion.

“We can tap into the Yoruba Diaspora population and make them come to Ife on an annual pilgrimage. If we get this right, this alone is enough to give Osun a buoyant economy and make the city one of the richest in Nigeria.

“When these are developed and well marketed, they will generate jobs in arts and craft; tours guide; transportation services in airlines and taxicabs. This will also enhance hospitality services, such as accommodations which include hotels and resorts; as well as entertainment venues, such as amusement parks, casinos, shopping malls, music venues and theatres”, Aregbesola said.

The Governor explained that the state already has a tourism master plan and has been developing it within the possible financial circumstances.

“What is most important now is for entrepreneurs to partner with the government in order for our state and the people to benefit from this tourism money-spinner,” he said.

He expressed concern over Nigerians, and their refusal to tap into the economic aspect of culture.

“Beyond cultural projection, there is the economic imperative of culture, foremost of which is tourism. We can build a thriving economy around our culture and monuments.

“Tourism is a silent money spinner that supports the economies of many nations. These nations include but not limited to: France, Egypt, Greece, United States, Spain, Italy, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Thailand and many island nations.”

Aregbesola was represented at the event by Dr Charles Akinola, the Director General of the Office of Economic Development and Partnerships (OEDP).