Stakeholders, including the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA), Hoteliers Association of Nigeria, Federation of Tourism Association of Nigeria (FTAN), Nigeria Tourism Development Commission (NTDC) and others on Sunday joined Oyo State government to celebrate world tourism day 2020.
The event, which was the first edition of the World Tourism Day to be hosted outside, Ibadan, the state capital, was used to explore the historical Idere hill one of the magnificent tourism potentials in Oyo State.
Onidere of Idere, Oba Kingsley Onikola Oyelami Olufiji 11 led the team round the historical sites which include Onidere Old Palace, Fish Lake, Aroye Hill, Atapa Water, 600 Years Old Defenee Wall, lyara Wall, Natural Swimming Pool and others.
Apart from the tour, traditional dancers and Masquerades also thrilled the audience with electrifying music and dances.
Hon Muraina Ajibola, a Federal lawmaker, who was the chairman of the occasion, said Idere Hills is one of the most beautiful natural landscapes in Nigeria.
Ajibola added that the Oyo State government moves the event to Idere Hills to demonstrate and symbolize her commitment to the development of the tourism potentials in all the various parts of the state.
He expressed gratitude to the Governor Makinde-led administration for choosing Idere Hills first.
“Tourists from all over the world can be attracted here if these sites are properly developed and presented to them. It is good we now have a governınent that appreciates the need to develop the potentials of Idere Hills as a tourist centre and we are looking forward to the improvements and the publicity necessary to put Idere Hills on the World Tourism Map.”
He said further that ” The COVID-19 pandemic is no doubt a serious global challenge to the tourism industry. However, it is also an opportunity. Even now that travel restrictions are being lifted, many of our people will not be too eager to renew their plans for family holidays outside Nigeria. For years, or at least until an effective vaccine is discovered, people will be reluctant to get on a plane for a distant destination just for the fun of it. This is an opportunity for us in Nigeria and Oyo State in particular to develop our recreational and tourist centres towards wooing those reluctant travellers to use and get to like the available facilities at home. They will, in turn, lead the global tourist community here when the pandemic is finally over.
“I hereby appeal to the Oyo State government to start the initiative here at Idere Hills. It will be a big boost to the economy of our dear state and the drive to increase our Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).
“I also want to appeal to all our people here in Idere and in Oyo State at large to continue to support every initiative and effort of government towards the development of our state and her economy. We should also continue to live carefully, observing all the COVID-19 prevention protocols until the pandemic is fully over.”
The state Commissioner For Information Culture and Tourism, Hon Wasiu Olatubosun, said the decision to take the celebration of World Tourism Day to Idere is to showcase local culture and promote domestic tourism.
“We are here to showcase our culture and explore the historical sites in Idere hill for stakeholders in the travel industry and I am sure the influx of tourists into this historical and ancient town will improve.”
In a similar development, Special Adviser to Governor Makinde on Culture and Tourism, Hon Akeem Ademola Ige said the governor is committed to developing tourism in the state because he understands that contributions of the sector to the socio-economic development of the society.
He maintained that one of the focuses of the event is to promote domestic tourism, increase economic benefits and create jobs for youths through increased traffic of tourists into the Ibarapa zone.