The French Embassy is working on new interventions to develop tourism in Oyo State, especially as it looks to expand its bilateral relationship with the state.
This was disclosed by a team from the French Embassy during a recent visit to the Ado-Awaye hill, some tourist attraction sites, as well as studios and archives of the Oyos State Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism.
Speaking during the visit, Vincent Hiribarren, director of the French Institute for Research in Africa (IFRA-Nigeria), who headed the French delegation, said France is determined to stay engaged with Oyo State and seek ways to explore its tourism potentials in different archaeological and historical sites.
According to him, the field visit to potential archaeological sites in Oyo State, which is the first working visit to the state’s tourism sites, is an opportunity to assess them, with the aim of developing an archaeological project. He added that France is currently seeking to help the Oyo State government document its tourism potentials, ensuring the full digitisation of its archaeological documents, archival materials and cultural heritage.
While deliberating with management of the ministry on possible projects to be developed based on the assessments made, the delegation said the Iya’ke Suspended Lake and the Iya’laro Lake are big tourism potentials. They added that the relics put up for consideration include Idere Relics, Kurunmi Relics, Iyake Suspended Lake, Ado Awaye & Aso Ofi centre, Iseyin (home of weavers).
Hiribarren promised the French government’s support to ensure Ado-Awaye among other tourist sites in the state are enlisted on the UNESCO recommendation for tourism, which he noted will consummate the state’s economic diplomacy upgrade. He added that the visit was an attempt to build on the priorities set by the French government, noting it was also a sign of Paris’ willingness to change the narrative of the relations between the State and France.
“We are working for a new, more sustainable, fairer way to support the tourism potentials in Oyo State. We want to find ways to partner with Oyo State on tourism to create more jobs, and to create more economic growth,” he assured.
In his remarks, Bunmi Babalola, permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, commended the French government for the visit, which he noted will increase the volume of economic impact on the people of Ado-Awaye.
He also pledged the state government’s full support to prioritize the tourism sector, which will in turn expand the state’s economy.
On his part, Sunday Oladapo Oyediran, Alado of Ado-Awaye, said the community has waited long for the realisation of this age-long dream.
According to the monarch, the community hosts the only natural suspended lake on the African continent, adding that the development will not only enhance tourism potentials in the state, but curb criminality and other vices.