By Demola Akinyemi, Ilorin
The Kwara State administration of Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed is putting tourism in the front burner as a major source of revenue for government.
Therefore,in his efforts to provide a conducive environment for investors to come to the state, Ahmed has concluded plans to explore the potentials in tourism to increase the internally generated revenue (IGR).
According to him, with the monthly federal allocations which put Kwara State third from the least paid among the thirty six states of the federation,he would leave no stone unturned to increase the IGR to a level that the government would least reckon with the allocations as its source of revenue.
The tourism policy thrust of the government, according to the Senior Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Communications, Dr Muideen Akorede, includes to speedily intervene and ameliorate destitution with a view to re integrating the destitute into the society and to promote the diverse rich culture, arts and crafts of the state to complement tourism development.
This, Akorede said, is geared towards making the state a foremost tourist destination in Nigeria attracting foreign and domestic tourists.The strategic framework to be employed to achieve the target include staging cultural carnivals, comprehensive renovation and upgrading of facilities in the state cultural centre, capacity building and provision of costume.
Others are; provision of materials for the cultural troupe, identification and upgrading of indigenous art and craft work, identification of tourist sites, involvement of private sector in the development of tourism, provision of incentives to investors in the tourism sector, recruitment of professional personnel, enlightenment and sensitization programmes on the importance of tourism and adequate budgetary provision for the tourism sector.
To achieve these objectives, the governor mandated the Office of Tourism and Culture Development to employ all possible means to see that tourism takes its place in the drive for economic growth in the state. The newly appointed Special Assistant to the Governor on Culture and Tourism Development, Mr. Oyedele Adetula, has commenced inspection of all tourist centres across Kwara.
The sites visited are the Owu Falls, one of Nigeria’s highest water falls, situated in Owa Onire, Isin Local Government Area, the Esie Stone Images Museum, at Esie, Ifelodun Local Government Area, Imoleboja Rock Shelter in Ekiti/Irepodun Local Government Area, Aso-Oke Weaving Center, Okuta Ilorin (ancient historical stone), Dada Pottery and Okelele Hide and Skin local industry in Ilorin.
Adetula decried the deplorable state of the facilities in the sector, and blamed the long years of neglect on inadequate publicity. He however expressed optimism that total revamp will be witnessed in a short while.