The Edo State Head of Service and Chairman of the state’s Tourism Steering Committee Anthony Okungbowa Esq has said that the state’s vision is to rebuild the fundamentals of Edo’s economy by harnessing the potentials of its history, heritage, arts and culture.

Okungbowa who disclosed this at the lanch of the Edo State Tourism Master Plan as part of activities marking this year’s Tourism Day said the idea was to rekindle the creative spirit that inspired our forebears to create valuable artefacts in time past, stressing that the state also wants to revitalize its infrastructure to support and sustain the new economy.

This he said would be achieved by making Edo State the tourism destination in Africa such that would boost tourism traffic into Nigeria which currently stands at less than 50,000 range per year compared to the 70,000 recorded in one month in Kenya.

He stressed that the target of the tourism project is to attract no less than 1 million visitors per annum from international, regional and domestic markets to Edo State.

The state’s vision he explained is to rebuild the fundamentals of Edo’s economy by harnessing the potential of our history, heritage, arts & culture; rekindle the creative spirit that inspired our forebears to create valuable artefacts as could be seen in most major museums globally.

Okungbowa posited that the development of tourism as a foreign exchange earner in the state becomes compelling now that Nigeria, a one time largest oil revenue earner in the world has in recent times suffered loses in the production and distribution chains leading to poor revenue inflow despite the high cost of crude oil at over $100 per barrel today,

“Nigeria’s revenue is at crucial levels due to crude theft, pipeline vandalism, fuel subsidy payments and a very huge debt portfolio at the Federal level. Consequently, Revenue allocation to States is dwindling and this makes it imperative for States with foresight to seek alternative revenue streams and investment in tourism becomes handy.

“As a State, we are tapping into our unique advantage of being blessed with a rich history, arts and cultural dynamics, we want to revitalize our infrastructure to support & sustain this new economy. This gives a direction of tourism “Beyond the Bronzes” as it is a careful design to make Edo the destination centre in Africa in the next few years. We are planning to do this in collaboration with you our corporate and private stakeholders with full grassroot and community support” Okungbowa explained

Research he said has shown that the total contribution of travel and tourism to the global economy is about 5.81 tr USD stressing however that the launch would provide the needed impetus to sustainable economic growth and viability in the tourism sub-sector.

He commended the State Governor Godwin Obaseki for the great vision and the opportunity to steer the committee to birth the masterplan including his alternate Chairman and all members of the Steering committee who have worked tirelessly to ensure that this vision comes to fruition.

September 27, every year is celebrated Globally as World Tourism Day and the theme for 2022 is “Rethinking Tourism” and Nigeria marked this year’s edition with a World Tourism Expo in Lagos Nigeria which indicates that indeed Nigeria is beginning to get a seat on the Global Tourism Table.

The Head of Service said that before the United Nations World Toursim Organization released this theme, Edo had proactively envisioned this when in December 2021 Governor Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki inaugurated the Tourism Steering Committee to spearhead the development of a masterplan to actualize the vision in the State.

He commended the expertise of the consultants Financial Derivatives and Verakki for their support in driving this great vision to fruition just as he thanked the Honourable Commissioner and Permanent secretary of the Ministry of Culture, Arts and Tourism for their level of input and support to the Committee.