Mr Osaze Osemwigie-Ero, Edo Commissioner for Arts, Culture, Tourism and Diaspora Affairs, on Thursday said the state was leveraging on its cultural heritage to develop a tourism master plan.
Osemwigie-Ero told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that it became necessary to do so to develop some sites and to increase tourism’s contributions to the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) profile of the state.
He said that Gov. Godwin Obaseki of Edo had made culture and tourism one of his administration’s pillars, as a means of elevating the state from a civil servant state to Africa’s tourism hub.
“The governor is trying to make Edo Africa’s tourism hub rather than the civil servant state that Edo was known for; so, we are looking at making it an industrialised state through foreign investments to develop tourist sites.
“We are developing a tourism master plan that will guide development of some sites to be able to ascertain the number of visitors coming to the state and how much was generated through tourism.
“Although, we are still in the baby stage to put things right and get investors to develop those sites, we will be able to ascertain the contributions of tourism to the IGR.
“To also promote tourism, we have created a desk at the Benin Airport for people to visit and ask questions about Tech-Edo and other tourist sites in the state.
“We also hope that our sites will be on Nigeria’s tourism catalogue at the various airports in the country, so that when people visit and go through the catalogues, out of the maybe 60 sites, 30 will attract them to Edo,’’ he said.
The commissioner also said: “We are also putting plans in place to have tourist guides right from the Benin Airport, and by this, the visitor will spend 3,000 dollars, thereby improving profits across the value chain.
“Our vision is to see that thousands of visitors come into Edo because there are countries like Dubai, Egypt, Kenya and Brazil among others that do not have natural resources but depend on tourism,” he said.
According to the commissioner, Edo is aligning with the Federal Government’s diversification drive, from dependence on crude oil to other sources of revenue generation.
“President Muhammadu Buhari, in his wisdom, already knew that it was high time we started looking at other directions away from crude oil. We as a people have survived on crude oil for a very long time.
“I can categorically tell you that in the nearest future, there is going to be issues because major countries in the world like Canada, U.K., America and others will have no need for using petrol cars, which will further affect our dependence on crude oil.
“They are going to be using electric, solar and battery cars.
“So, it is time to start looking at a new direction, and am happy to tell you that Obaseki has keyed into the trend that through tourism and agriculture, we can develop the economy,” Osemwegie-Ero said.
He also advised Edo people in the Diaspora to be purposeful when hosting events that will improve the economy of the state.
The commissioner gave the advice against the backdrop of the 2018 Edo National Association Worldwide Conference held in Canada.