Last Week “Kaduna State Tourism Catalogue” was unveiled at the recently concluded KADINVEST 6.0. Can you elaborate on the catalogue?
The 27th of September is World Tourism Day, so at the international level, national level and state levels, the day is expected to be celebrated at all levels. So, unveiling the Kaduna State Tourism Catalogue could not have come at a better time as it coincided with our Kaduna Investment and Economic Summit (KADINVEST).
We did realize that tourism is not only about fun seeking; it is also a money-spinner. It does contribute a large proportion to the GDP of countries. Growing and developing tourism is part of the mandate of Ministry of Business Innovation and Technology (MBIT). So, there was a need for us to latch on to the economic aspect, to unveil and enhance the sector, seeing that there is the need for us to grow our Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) for obvious reasons. We have a lot of plans for the tourism industry, and the unveiling was a step towards achieving them.
What does the catalogue contain? Is it readily available? How can it be accessed?
Okay, we have first been able to distribute printed copies of the catalogue to participants at the KADINVEST. We also have other volumes we intend to send out to our partners, and stakeholders from both the tourism and investment sectors. And over time, we intend to print more copies, send out to embassies, and drop some pamphlets at the train station and airport, to name a few. It is free, available, and the easiest way to get it is to go online. You could go to our website at www.mbit.kdsg.gov.ng and download a copy in addition to other resource materials and information.
The catalogue contains information about Kaduna state, our diverse cultures, and most importantly, about tourism sites and monuments that we intend to leverage to further improve our socio-economy.
How did your ministry mark this year’s World Tourism Day, which was celebrated across the world last Tuesday?
The most important bit was the unveiling of this catalogue. However, in addition, we had a press conference which we host annually. The idea is to provide information on the tourism industry and highlight specific subjects that should be of interest to members of the public, being the key critical players in the sector.
In addition, we are in a working partnership with the Tourism and Hospitality Industry Thematic Group (THITG) of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG). And as a build up to this, we participated in a stakeholder roundtable where critical issues affecting the industry were discussed with recommendations on the way forward.
We also joined other states to converge and celebrate nationally, as it is the tradition. This celebration is usually organised by the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture. This year, the selected host state was Kebbi state. The Kaduna State Government was represented by the ministry’s Director of Tourism.
This year’s World Tourism Day theme is “Tourism for Inclusive Growth.” How does the theme align with Kaduna state’s development trajectory?
We are looking at growth; and we are looking at development; we are also pursuing investments in the sector, we are looking at skills development relative to the industry, and very importantly, community participation. This covers a wide range of our priorities.
Let me give you a typical example: Turunku Hill has been lying fallow. With the potentials it has for historical tourism, it is important that the community itself, being the first and immediate custodian of that history, to be carried along in terms of highlighting its existence and enlisting it as a nationally and internationally recognised tourist site.
Firstly, it has to be enlisted nationally, internationally and identified as a tourism site proper. We need to go through those processes, which will entail working with National Commission on Museums and Monuments, and the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), and of course securing relevant legislations from the State and National Assembly.
There is a need to protect the sites because they have been eroded, bastardized, and vandalized. People pick up all those rocks at Turunku Hills and use them to build their houses; they are degrading the sites. The dye pits and dye wells are there; they are all being blocked up. There is a need to protect the sites. So, we are working on legislation, a protectorate bill to protect all our identified tourism sites.
Also in terms of community participation, we are working with local governments to setup Tourism Committees to identify and bring up those sites they know are valuable.
We also intend to work on identified economic sites, that is why the tourism catalogue was launched. We tried to concentrate strictly on sites that are economically valuable to make them bankable in the sense that it will be enough to attract an investor.
The same thing we intend to do with Matsirga Waterfall, Nok Terracotta, and the rest. There are many of them. We have just started with Kagoro hills but we had challenges, so we had to slow down on that.
What measures is the government putting in place to boost tourism generally in Kaduna state?
That is what I tried to explain earlier when I said there is a need to work on the protectorate bill. Protectorate law is one thing; there is also a need to protect physically. I also talked about the need to work with other stakeholders like the local governments to identify other sites and develop them. So, along those lines, we will be working with the State and National Assembly for the laws, we will be working with curators, the National Commission on Museums and Monuments.
We have engaged with the THITG of NESG, which is trying to promote tourism in Nigeria as an entity. I am proud to say they encouraged other states to emulate Kaduna state in driving tourism forward.
There is a need for a massive transportation network in any country to have tourists come in. So, all that is in place, already we do have a classified international airport so that you can fly in from any part of the world. We have good linkages with the center, Abuja, considering the railway network we have. We also have the old rail network that people seem to have forgotten about, but it does link up the state in a different perspective.
Most importantly, I must stress the issue of urban renewal. People have described Kaduna right now as a construction site. It’s interesting that 20-25 years before now, nothing had been done to Kaduna. People come back to Kaduna now and do get lost. So, working on the urban renewal, upgrading transportation networks is a major aspect to help promote tourism.
We are working on a project to graduate Kaduna into a safe city, and that’s why today we have security cameras all around the place to enable us to secure the city better and track offenders easily. So, all these are some of the actions we have taken to make the state tourist-friendly.
There has just been an improvement in the hospitality sector. We have been working on upgrading that sector properly. We work very closely with the hoteliers association, and we have also worked at trying to classify and upgrade hotels. We have tried to ensure that we meet international standards. Someone coming from the UK, France, or Asia goes online to make his bookings. He knows what to expect if he goes for class A or class B or class C hotels.
We have certain areas, villages or towns that do delicacies and things like that. There is a need to identify and promote that, so that if the Briton or the German wants to come and eat waina, he knows what to do. He should be able to go online and find what he wants. We intend to step up to that level, it is going to take some time, but we need to do it.
To what extent is the private sector involved in developing tourism in your masterplan?
That’s the aspect we are trying to pull in. We are trying to let them realize the potential and attract them, this is the main reason we launched at KADINVEST 6.0, the investor’s forum.
What measures are in place to mitigate the impact of the apparent surge of insecurity across the country on the state’s tourism and hospitality sectors?
Truth is, we can’t run away from facts. We are in a heightened state of insecurity, and it’s not Kaduna state alone. Just as the governor said at KADINVEST, it doesn’t mean you kill out a certain sector because there are challenges from another sector. We are addressing insecurity from different perspectives, and progress is being made. Sometimes, we have some mishaps that take us back. But at the same time, there is a need also to develop the tourism space so that when all this is cleared up, it can thrive. We can’t wait till then, before we start to prepare. That is why, if you notice we are not saying, ‘’embark on tours or excursions,’’ but what we are doing right now is preparing the areas, to ensure the atmosphere is set for investors to come in and take over.
I gave you some insights into what we are trying to do initially, but of course, in the long run, we would like to encourage tourists to come in and embark on tours. We will provide adequate security, and we will be working very closely with trained tourist guides. Overall, we will provide an enabling environment.
-A three-day annual Kaduna Book and Arts Fesval (KABAFEST) has been introduced since July 2017;
-The Zazzau Emirate annually celebrates Eid el Adha, with colourful traditional outfits and a grand durbar at the Emir’s palace in the ancient city of Zaria;
-Christmas celebrations on December 25th and 26th are usually colourful and and the New Year has also become an anticipated celebration, with fireworks display to usher it in on the 31st of December;
-The Afan Festival takes place on New Year day in Kagoro, Kaura local government area, where the sons and daughters of Agworok land come together to celebrate their cultural heritage;
-During Easter, the Tuk Ham Festival is celebrated in Kwoi, Jaba local government area, which features cultural songs and dance as well as the rich cultural heritage of the people;
-Other festivals include the Batadon Festival, Ayet Atyap annual cultural Festival and Kafanchan Day celebration, as well as the Moro’a cultural Festival, Ninzo cultural Festival, Zunzuk dance and Unum-Akulu Festival;
-The Kalankuwa cultural Festival, which is a celebration of good farming season, is also celebrated in the northern part of the state in November/December, especially in Bomo village and Samaru, in Sabon Gari local government area.
– Apart from entertainment and cultural events, the Kaduna Clay Court Lawn Tennis Tournament has now resumed and it is being hosted by the Kaduna state;
-Ministry of Sports Development also organizes the Traditional Dambe wrestling and the Horse Racing tournaments at Murtala Mohammed Square;
-The annual Rugby and Cricket Tournaments are also hosted by the Rugby and Crocodile Clubs at Murtala Mohammed Square.