Tourism is indisputably a major economic force in the world. As a key component of many countries service exports, it has the power to deliver significant international earnings that can be directed towards the fundamental priority of alleviating poverty (WTO 2004).
During the twelve year period between 1990 and 2002, international tourism arrivals globally grew by 54% and now stand at around 700 million. By 2020 it is expected that this figure will have more than doubled, Predicted growth rates of between 5% and 7 % per annum for Africa and South Asia, which contain many of the world’s poorest regions are considerably greater than for the world as a whole.
Global receipts from international tourism amounted to US$475 billion in 2002.
Tourism makes up a large part of the world’s growing service sector and accounts for over 30% of all service exports. In some countries this percentage is much higher for example in sub-Saharan. Africa it accounts for around 55% of service sector exports.
Yet often the position of tourism as an important stimulus to international and national economies is not fully recognized. It deserves more attention from finance ministries and organizations concerned with economic development, as well as from ministries of tourism and culture and all those committed to the UN Millennium Declaration to poverty in the world’s poorest countries by 2015.
Tourism can be harnessed as a significant force for the alleviation of poverty, as well as for environmental protection giving economic value to cultural heritage, creating employment and generating foreign exchange earnings. The WTO is already taking a number of strategic steps to improve the possibility of this happening, including engagement in world trade negotiations, promoting the concept of sustainable tourism to all policy makers and establishing a special initiative on sustainable Tourism for the elimination of poverty (STEP).
How can our people take advantage of these positive trends?
Taking advantage of Nigeria’s Tourism Master Plan through Eco- Tourism and Eco- Museum development.
Eco-Tourism is an Environmentaly responsible brand of travel and visitation to relatively undisturbed areas in order to enjoy and appreciate nature and culture.
Also known as ‘niche’ or cultural tourism, it offers a special kind of visit for people with special kinds of interest and love for the authentic, centered around historic or sacred places as well as intangible values in festivals and folklore, and the dimensions in historic towns, villages, caves and grooves etc
Cultural tourists are environmentally conscious, politically open minded.
They do not shop for relics as antiques but prefer learning about them and in a participate manner.
They do not mind modest means of transportation nor do they mind a small, local hotel as long as it is clean.
They are high spenders so far as they get value for their money; they are refined customers with a love for excellence, a taste for the authentic.
STRATEGY: SUSTAINABLE TOURISM
To satisfy niche, travellers requires the patient work of a conservator but the experience of tourism expert to provide the quality service.
Conservation must therefore precede tourism. Successful inventory and conservation planning must precede acceptable dignified and profitable tourism.
TOURISM OFFERINGS AND ASSETS IN NORTHERN EDO
Edo State with the ancient city of Benin with the Oba and his paraphernalia is one of the cultural capitals of Nigeria with the famous Queen Idia Mask as the symbolic epitome of African beauty and elegance.
In the same vein Auchi, is today the gate way to the mosaic of cultutres that con Edo Northern Senatorial District whose distinctive cultural assets have drawn from all parts of the Nigerian nation state.
“Auchi” according to Prince Usman Abuda is central focal point linking Akoko- Edo, Estako East and Central as well as Owan East and West, the former Kukuruku Division under colonial rule and later Afemal Division in early independence period.
POTENTIAL TOURISM PROJECTS/ STRATEGIES
1. Eco-Museum, “Museum without walls” cultural park based on sustainable practices driven by communities with the youth constituted into cooperatives trained in:
a. Heritage conservation and product development driven by local government structures with state government underwriter and standard bearer.
b. Cultural industries to be driven by private sector and entrepreneurs.
2. Eco-museum, as cultural park, an open air where nature and culture, people and nature interact within a sustainable tourism plan that allows for the wise use of irreplaceable heritage to create jobs through craft and sourvenir development, herbal gardens, agro- tourism, village/rural tourism, environmental friendly hostess, water based tourism in mountaineering, living histories, food museum, festivals, filming, etc
Thus eco museum is a dynamic way in which communities preserve interpret and manage their heritage natural and cultural assets for sustainable livelihood based on their environmental resources.
Founded upon an integrated community development strategy, an Eco- museum is about designing real actions able to drive and accommodate structurally compatible services and improvement of our villages.
Village tourism centered around such features as rivers, mountains, hills, sacred places is becoming fashionable and the tourist delight for the adventuresome with a taste for the aroma of nature in its “virginity”, authenticity and integrity( not five-star hotels) lodges within families in neat vernacular or colonial architectural buildings.
PRELIMINARY ANALYSIS OF AUCHI TOWN WITHIN HER AFENMAI/KUKURUKU NEIGHBOURHOOD
Neighbours indicate that the basis for rural tourism product development is in place, the beautiful country side with the fugar caves in Avainwu, the sacred places in uzairue, okpekpe, the wrestling grounds and greens of the surrounding communities, the pilgrimage and anti-witchcraft centers in such places as Adaoubi, Orle sacred deities, Uchi and Ebhor-Ostudo which now constitute what UNESCO would categories as sites of memories attesting to our past in the present and the present in our past as touchstones of a dynamic world of change and continuity.
Auchi on its own has become a historic town with a multilayered prehistory, the Nupe encounters which witnessed demographic changes in and out of migrations as well as an admixture of people. The Yeluwa quarters in Jattu-Uzairue was and is a strategic trade route between North and south of the middle belt of Nigeria.
1. The threat posed by gully erosion to Auchi, Jattu and environs should be comprehensively addressed through an urban- renewal and Eco- tourism master plan.
2. An Inventory of the tangible and intangible heritage of Northern Edo within an overall Edo state master plan should be inaugurated.
3. A ranking order as well as a development action plan of the heritage resources of this zone should be worked out for donour support and technical assistance.
4. On the immediate term a rescue plan for conservation of the heritage of Auchi and environs should be inaugurated with the setting up of a team ot experts to address the erosion menace
5. The textile centre at Egbofosele should be revived as a craft development and tourism site for employment and revenue generation.
Thank you for giving me this opportunity to share my ideas with you.