In this report, ACHOR ABIMAJE chronicles the mechanism being put in place by the Plateau state government to boost tourism industry.
The Plateau state governor, Simon Lalong said his administration will do everything humanly possible to boost tourism industry as well as creating enabling environment for business to strive in the state.
Plateau state is often referred to as the home of Peace and Tourism with so many tourism sites scattered across the state left untapped .
These include the Jos wildlife park, Jos zoological garden , Riyom rock formations , Kira water fall, the Dutse Uku rock among others .
Lalong made this known while speaking at the opening ceremony of the first ever tourism conference on unlocking the vast potentials of tourism as a financing option for sustainable socio economic development in Jos, the state capital.
He said ” It is the prop upon which we desire to promote the attainment of a sustainable environment. Where anarchy and chaos remain the order of the day, no meaningful development can be attained, much less the creation of Tourism destinations for recreation.
“We are indeed very proud as a state to host this conference considering our comparative advantage over every other state in Nigeria in terms of our tourism endowments.
” It is quite significant that we are hosting this conference at a time that there is the urgent need for an inclusive and participatory tourism development roadmap, involving the communities through their development associations, the local government councils, the state government, the private sector and all critical stakeholders in the tourism value chain, all of whose respective roles in developing the state’s tourism sector cannot be over emphasised.
“This conference is also significant to developing our tourism endowments because it can stimulate understanding and support efforts toward building a culture of peace that is very critical in the development process. It is instructive to note that mobilizing all stakeholders in this manner to work together will culminate in making tourism a formidable catalyst for positive change!”
He added that the event was an open attestation of the tourism credentials of Plateau state, and even a greater affirmation of the commitment of our Rescue Administration to the development of Tourism in the state.
Lalong said : “You will recall that on assumption of office about three and a half years ago, my administration unveiled a Five Policy Thrust Governance Intervention Agenda. The first of this thrust is Peace, Security and Good Governance and the fifth is the provision of critical Physical Infrastructure and the development of a sustainable environment.
“Further to this and considering the immense potentials that Plateau State possesses, and given the advantage of an all-year-round clement weather, Government has seen the need to provide critical infrastructure in its urban governance and rural transformation Agenda. The reason for this is simply to ensure that facilities are available across the state to make life easier for the various communities in the state, thereby, creating a visitor-friendly community throughout the state.”
The governor said the Plateau State Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Hospitality, together with all her subordinate agencies have in the last two years made concerted efforts in ensuring that through Annual Cultural and Entertainment events, they have helped to keep the state in the Tourism Calendar of tourism events in the country.
According to him, Plateau State Carnival, a Road Show and Music Fiesta, are experiencing and receiving national recognition and I can assure you it will soon rival the Calabar Carnival and “CarniRivs”. “
He added that the state is also on record to have hosted the Boat Sports Carnival or Regatta, held last year and will be looking forward to expanding on this potential in Aqua-Sports. The Mountain Hiking, High Altitude Sports Training, Bird Watching and others alike, which all fall within the Sports and Eco-Tourism Sectors, are gaining relevance by the day and we are providing an environment that creates a conducive atmosphere for travel and tours to thrive, in addition to resuscitation efforts being put in place in our already established Tourist sites within the state.”
” Let me make it abundantly clear that no responsible government can afford to let the economic potentials of the Tourism and Travel Industry to remain fallow, and this underscores the new focus of our government. For a Sector that is one of the World’s largest industries, with global economic contribution of about 8.27 trillion USD in 2017; representing almost 10 percent of Global GDP and supporting over 277 million jobs, which translates to one (1) job out of eleven (11) employments worldwide, Tourism and Travels remain a Sector that must be given attention.
“In November 2017, as stated earlier, I had the opportunity of leading a delegation from the State to the World Travel Market in Excel London, and it provided me the opportunity of seeing the potential of the Travel Market to connect attendees and network of Tour Practitioners, key industry buyers and influencers for the purpose of Tourism Destination Marketing.
“I am envisaging that we can localise this experience using the Public/Private sector Partnership, (PPP) strategy to create a convergence for the demand and supply chain in the Tourism and Travels Sectors. Pursuant to this, government has strategically appointed members to the Board of the Plateau State Tourism Corporation in London for the UK and Europe (Who is already considering the establishment of a One-Stop-Tourism-Shop in London to cater for would-be investors to the state) and in the United States for the Americas.
“Therefore, as you brainstorm on the theme of the conference, I will be expecting the exercise to come out with far reaching resolutions that will help us as a government, to find the master key that will unlock the vast potentials inherent in tourism as a financing option that will accelerate the socioeconomic development of our State. Our desire also, is so you can highlight the position of Plateau State, as one of the most peaceful and unique destinations for Tourism in Nigeria.
“I am hoping that we will not only pay lip service to this but will identify areas of collaboration and engage experts in marketing the state as the Tourism Investment Destination of Nigeria, which will help expose Plateau State to the outside world, for the mutually benefiting economic advantage it will avail all.”
Similarly, the governor also while speaking on the occasion of Plateau Trade Fair with theme “Sustainable Development of MSMEs in a Challenging Economic Environment,” said it is indeed apt and timely adding that this is because it encapsulates the realities that the present business and investment strategies face.
He noted that government has deliberately put in place some measures with a view to overcoming these economic challenges by establishing some institutions at the inception of this administration like the Plateau State Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency) to facilitate regulation compliance.
According to him, there are abundant human and natural resources that are begging to be harnessed in our dear state saying a Trade Fair such as this, therefore, avails stakeholders the opportunity to meet, collaborate and cross-fertilize business ideas, as well as showcase their respective potentials.
The governor pointed out that the cool and serene weather of the state is unique and the beautiful sceneries that are found all over the state all combine to make Plateau state a sure tourist destination stressing that a visit to places like Wase, Mangu, Pankshin, Riyom etc, will surely convince any serious-minded entrepreneur in the tourism sector to invest therein.
“Plateau State is blessed with solid minerals like tin, columbite, silicon, limestone, kaolin, etc, that are all in large quantities. In agriculture, government is collaborating with a private firm, the Agricultural Services and Training Centre (ASTC) which is located in each of the three geo-political zones of the state.
This firm works directly with the farmers by way of providing tractor services, seeds/seedlings, consultancy services etc. “
According the governor, one major lynchpin of the Rescue Administration has been its deliberate decision to tackle the state’s industrialization challenge headlong by engaging in the revamping of hitherto moribund state-owned industries which were abandoned by past administrations for decades. Our efforts in this regard have paid off handsomely.
He added that the Plateau State Fertilizer Blending Plant, Bokkos has since been resuscitated for the first time in the history of Plateau State, they now have a functional Fertilizer Plant that is fully operational at optimal capacity stressing that the products are available, affordable and of excellent quality.
“The plant is being operated under a Public-Private Partnership with the state government. Bejafta won the best fertilizer of the year award in the fertilizer category.
The hitherto abandoned state-owned Highland Bottling Compay in Barkin Ladi, has since been resuscitated. The company is now producing table water (GovWater) which has already hit the market. Very soon, with the availability of funds, the firm will commence the production of malt drinks and other products.”
Others are according to him, is two other firms, the Jos International Breweries, PLC, and the Jos Ultra Modern Market, have reached advanced stage in our efforts to revive them stressing that government has also entered into a PPP with a foreign firm and even released a part-payment for the resuscitation of the Jos Ultra Modern Market. Government has also paid part of the money to acquire BARC Farms, a subsidiary of JIB PLC, which was erroneously sold to an investor.
He said efforts have also reached an advanced stage for the acquisition of a Permanent Trade Fair ground. “We are also opening up satellite markets to boost commercial activities in the state and to also decongest the city.”
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