Alhaji Aliyu Badaki, former President of the Hospitality and Tourism Management Association of Nigeria (HATMAN), on Friday urged Gov. Yahaya Bello of Kogi to look into tourism development in the state to boost its economy.
Badaki made the call during the sixth edition of the Naija Seven Wonders webinar session, organised by Mr Ikechi Uko, organiser of AKWAABA Africa Travel and Tourism Market.
The theme of the meeting was: “Where to Visit in Nigeria: Issues of Access and Security”.
He said that Kogi was well-endowed with natural tourism assets in likes of plateaus, hills, festivals, caves, hotels, the confluence and more.
According to him, if these potentialities are properly developed, they are capable of creating employment opportunities to preoccupy the youths and boosting the state’s economy.
Badaki noted that the state was strategically positioned to be sharing boundaries with about nine states, cutting across the East, West, North and Southern parts of the country.
“Kogi is a place to look out for and visit when trying to unwind and relax; there are lots of natural tourism sites which have not been properly developed to generate revenue for the state.
“We have the Mount Patti, where the statues of late Fredrick Lord Luggard and wife, Lady Flora Shaw, are installed; the serene ambience and lush green vegetation around the place render it very beautiful.
“Also, the Obangogo Hill in Kabba, of about 600-ft above sea level, the hill played an important role in the history of the Kabba people, who hid under its shade while escaping the slave raids of the Nupe warriors, who regularly invaded about 300 years ago.
“It was a place of refuge for the Kabba people during that period in their history; at the top of the hill is a spring water, believed to be having some healing properties.
“This can be further developed to woo tourists across the globe.
“Kogi government must begin to develop its tourism potential to engage the youths meaningfully and create enabling environment to attract investors who can develop these tourism assets.”
Badaki said that the state’s age-long festival, Ovia-Osese in Ogori community, which had to do with initiating girls to womanhood, had to be well-developed, internalising new and interesting content for better attraction.
He said that this was a festival relevant for keeping girls chaste.
Badaki also urged the Minister for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to upgrade the famous Zuma Rock, which had also been strategically located along the highway.
“Zuma Rock is no longer heard of like before; this place should be properly developed to attract tourists.
“Government needs to create activities around the site to make it more appealing to tourists,” he said.
Similarly, Ebele Enemchukwu, former Mrs Tourism, United Nations, urged Nigerians to visit the Badagry Slave Route in Lagos State, which would keep individuals abreast of developments during the slave trade era.
Enemchukwu also suggested visitation to the Zoological Gardens in Ibadan, Oyo State, where people could have access to animals like camels, tortoises, giraffe, elephants and more.
She urged the Federal Government to wade into the deplorable condition of most roads leading to most tourists sites in the country, as this had been a discouraging factor to visiting heritage sites.
“Visitation to the Badagry Slave Route, Calabar Light Rail, the Zoological Gardens in Ibadan, Shere Hills in Plateau and Carnival Calabar will definitely create beautiful memories for you.
“These are quite few from all the nation is blessed with, but I will advise that due to the deplorable state of our roads, most trips should be made during the day; avoid night travels,” Enenchukwu said.
By TAIYE BAIYEROHI