NAN) Stakeholders in the tourism sector have called on the federal and state governments to invest in infrastructure in the country’s heritage sites to effectively serve as alternative revenue source.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) survey of some United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Heritage Sites showed that only a few sites are actually generating revenues for their states.
The sites are Osun-Osogbo grove in Osun, Olumirin Water Fall in Erin-Ijesha, Obudu Mountain Ranch Resort in Cross River, Ikogosi Warm Spring in Ekiti State, Oke Idanre Hill, Ondo State.
The stakeholders noted that more still needed to be done to improve revenue generation from the sites by massive investment in infrastructure.
Mr Makinda Williams, the Curator of Osun-Osogbo Grove and Deputy Director (Research), National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM) told NAN that Osun-Osogbo festival had been generating revenue through its annual festivals.
Williams said the popular festival attracted more than 9,266 people in 2017 and 537 of them were foreigners.
He said annually 121,000 tourists visited the grove for the Osun-Osogbo festival and had been generating revenue for the state government.
He noted, however, that more development and infrastructures needed to be put in place at the site to attract more tourists and generate more revenue with the dwindling revenue from oil.
“The museum is responsible for the preservation of the ancient structures in the grove, which are the main attraction for tourists,’’ he said.
Mrs Taiwo Oluga, the Special Adviser on Tourism and Culture to Gov. Rauf Aregbesola, commended the governor for the support given to Osun-Osogbo grove and Erin Ijesha Waterfall.
Oluga told NAN that the state government had embarked on road construction at the waterfall and construction of pavilion and car parks at the Osun-Osogbo grove.
She said government was giving the Osun-Osogbo grove priority due to its recognition by UNESCO as a world heritage site.
She said the state had been utilising both sites to generate revenue and boost tourism in the state.
At the Olumirin Waterfall, Erin-Ijesha, the site Manager for Destination Management Services, Mr Fadare Adedeji, told NAN that people from far and near patronised the site for pleasure and relaxation.
Adedeji said during off-peak period, which is between Monday and Thursday, no fewer than 100 persons usually visited the site.
The site manager said the road leading to the site was still under construction while efforts were being made by the government to provide more infrastructure such as hotels, banks and hospitals.
Adedeji, however, called for public private partnership in developing the tourist site to a world standard.
Chief Oludare Ajitomokin, the Aro of Erin-Ijesha land also decried the lack of basic infrastructure at the site such as hotels, resorts and recreational facilities.
At Ikogosi Warm Spring Resort in Ekiti State, the Ekiti Government said it was renovating infrastructure at the site in line with its restoration agenda of improving ecotourism in the state.
The Commissioner for Information, Mr Lanre Ogunsuyi, who dismissed insinuations that the state had abandoned promotion of tourism, told NAN that the Gov. Ayo Fayose administration was committed to developing all-round tourism as one of its cardinal principles.
He said the measure would promote the non-oil sector so as to reduce the over-dependence on monthly federal allocation.
The commissioner described the Ikogosi Warm Spring as the pride of the state, saying “it is the flagship tourist destination in Nigeria’’.
“Making Ekiti a most attractive destination for relaxation and holidays by developing as well as promoting all our tourism corridors of which Ikogosi Warm Spring stands out is a priority of the present administration.
“Government believes that if our tourism sites are well developed and harnessed, they are capable of generating billions of naira to the state annually,’’ he said.
In Cross River, the state government expressed its determination to upgrade tourism sites in the state to UNESCO international standard.
Gov. Ben Ayade’s administration had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Mac Creeds and Tom Consortium of South Africa and Spain for facilities’ upgrade at the Obudu Ranch Resort in Obanliku Local Government Area.
Mr Eric Anderson, the Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, said the MoU was signed to reconstruct the facility, optimise its tourism values and upgrade it to meet the UNESCO standard.
He said the Obudu Ranch Resort was the most primed tourist destination in Nigeria, adding that the MoU would raise the concept of the ranch to UNESCO standard.
“The facility upgrade will further bring tourism potential of the state to limelight. Obudu Ranch Resort is a household name in Nigeria and the world at large as far as tourism is concern.
“We have entered into an agreement with Mac Creeds and Tom Consortium to take over the management of the ranch.
“In Cross River, we are known as one destination for tourism. The ranch, if well upgraded, will increase the revenue profile of the state and Nigeria.
“Obudu Ranch Resort plays host to a good number of visitors monthly. I may not have the exact number of visitors thronging in monthly, but I know that the turnout of visitors is high,’’ he said.
Mr Maureen Enem, the Public Relations Officer, National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM) told NAN that NCMM was the custodian of museums and monuments across the country and responsible for the day to day administration and maintenance of those sites.
Enem said that one of the challenges facing the museums across the country “is inadequate funding’’.
NAN reports that there only two heritage sites approved by UNESCO in Nigeria-Sukur Cultural Landscape in Madagali Local Government Area (LGA) of Adamawa and Osun-Osogbo grove in Osun. (NAN)