The Ogun State Government has pledges its support to virtual tourism and the Tourism Innovation and Development Advantage (TIDA) Conference , saying it would place Nigeria on the world map in the area of tourism development.
The Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, in Ogun State , Mr. Muyiwa Oladipo revealed this while addressing newsmen in Abeokuta, Ogun on Thursday ahead of the Feb. 15 slated for its launch in Lagos.
According to Oladipo, the state government was pledging its support for the conference with the belief that Nigeria would become the focal point for tourism internationally after the launch.
The commissioner said: “Tourism in Nigeria is relatively new, l personally feel pained because Nigeria that calls itself the giant of Africa does not have tourist visas.
“The Ogun State Government has tried to get across to the whole world by promoting itself as a location for tourist attractions.
“In Ogun State, we have cultural tourism which entails so many festivals and the prominent one being the drum festival which is coming up in April.
“As for education tourism, we have the highest number of institutions in the country,’’ Oladipo said.
He also said that the state could boast of religious tourism with big worshipping centres that include :The Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) and Mountain of Fire and Miracle Ministries (MFM) .
“Olumo Rock is also another tourist centre in Ogun that attracts tourists from all over the globe.
“Another fantastic one is the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL) that is a place that unless you visit, you cannot fully appreciate it.”
He further said that with the launch of virtual tourism, the state and the country would be a reference point in tourism destination in Africa.
Oladipo said that in 2016, the state organised the first ever drum festival which became African Drum Festival in 2017.
He said that this year’s edition would hold from April 19 to April 21.
The commissioner also gave insight into why some famed tourists sites in the state were perceived not to be getting the attention of the government.
On the Tie-and Dye- (Adire) Market, he said: “No matter what you do, people will still want more.
He said that the state government had since 1999 been trying to relocate the market to a more spacious place its present location was getting congested.
He, however, said that the marketers had refused to relocate to the new site.
The commissioner said that previous administrations in the state had tried to turn-around the market through by promoting it before the international community and rendering financial assistance to business owners.
“Because of the epileptic power supply, the government has brought generators to boost businesses in the market; renovation of the market is in the pipeline for this year.’’
The commissioners also spoke on the faulty elevator that visitors and tourists usually used to climb up or descend the Olumo Rock.
He said that its installation had defeated the purpose of climbing the rock as it never afforded tourists the opportunity to appreciate the Rock’s panoramic sceneries.
The commissioner said that other tourist sites such as Mounts Everest and Kilimanjaro did not have elevators attached to them.
Oladipo said that the state government had no plans at present to repair the elevator.
Also, Mr Femi Lawson, the Managing Director of Skyview Communications said the launch of virtual tourism at the forthcoming TIDA conference would help re-direct the negative perceptions about Nigeria and her viable tourism destinations.
“The corporation believes that using virtual reality to promote tourism will captivate the minds of would-be tourists to the vast tourism potential of the country.
“With the aim of tapping into the tourism industry, Skyview Communications Company is partnering other organisations to host the conference,” Lawson said.
Lawson said that the conference would discuss the challenges facing the tourism industry and why people were not buying-in into local tourism.
He said that respected stakeholders in the industry had been invited to share from their wealth of experience at the conference.
Lawson also said that the launch of virtual tourism during the TIDA conference would help increase the patronage of Nigerian tourist sites.
“It will give people the opportunity of experiencing the site while seated in their homes, offices or in other areas.
Lawson noted that the Tourism Entrepreneur Development Academy (TEDA) would be another focal point at the TIDA conference.
“We will be inviting experienced hands in the industry to come and mentor the emerging ones on the platform of TEDA,” he said.
The theme of the conference will be: “The Impact of Tourism Development on the Nigerian Economy.’’ He said.