The government of Osun State and Margaret Bolanle Fabiyi, a private tourism investor, are to partner on the development of a world-class tourism resort in Ikirun. When completed, the project which is expected to gulp billions of naira, will serve as one-stop-shop for leisure, hospitality, entertainment, shopping, conference business and tours.
The resort, second to none in Nigeria, will also have agricultural component to grow agric tourism and residential houses in addition to creating room for service providers, a hospital, school, jetty, helipad and filling station among other facilities.
While unveiling the project plan to travel writers in Lagos recently, Fabiyi, popularly called Webisco, said the project is huge and would certainly address the problem of unemployment as it would create jobs and also generate revenue for the state in the face of stifling economic condition caused by the fall of crude oil price at the world market.
She disclosed that efforts were being made to complete the land acquisition and documentation, adding that the state government should do the needful by showing above average commitment financially and otherwise to realise the resort.
‘We have acquired a 25 square kilometer land in Ikirun, Osun State for the development of a one-stop tourism resort that would be second to none in Nigeria. The land was facilitated by, Oba Rauf Olawale, the Akirun of Ikirun.
“We are working out the modalities and would make an appropriate comment on its update when we have sorted out the grey arrears”, Fabiyi said.
Fabiyi, who is an active member of most tourism and travel organisations in Nigeria, including Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN) is a leading member and country liaising officer for Africa Travel Association (ATA) with headquarters in New York, U.S.A.
“As we continue to invest our individual efforts in promoting and marketing tourism in our country we hope that very soon we will begin to reap the dividends. A trip by President Barack Obama, for instance, would drive heavy traffic to this country. Although we will not bank on that, given that his tenure is running fast, we are committed to continuously promoting our country as the home of hospitality in West Africa”. Also, as part of her effort to open up the country to influx of tourists, a team of travel writers from the United States of America is expected in the country for the second familiarization tour organised by her in collaboration with the Federal Government to promote tourism in Nigeria.
For the Familiarization Trip, we would get in touch with the facilitators so that we would not be taken unawares when ministers, yet to be appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari, assume duty. She hoped to use WIFWETN her NGO, to do the needful by liaising with the authorities to ensure that the trip is fruitful.
Commenting on the security challenges in the country, she remarked that there is no country in the world without security challenges. She however pledged to ensure that the guests are protected during their visit and exposed only to our tourism wealth, to supply them with limitless information of our potentials, because there is the need to move from tourism potential to prosperity now that oil price has become something else.”
“I see our stabilizing democracy as a reason for organizing the familiarization trip. This time, about 10 travel writers from the US are coming as soon as we are ready. They will spend 12 days. It is in partnership with VALinc PR to compliment what Nigeria tourism writers have been doing. The trip is a deliberate effort to expose top media outlets to travel, vacation and cultural opportunities here and to create a rich itinerary and present to the Americans a balanced package of our endowments. They will experience the traditional Nigeria, visit local producers of food, art, fashion, culinary, nightlife, entertainment, tourist sites, beaches and historical monuments. The trip will be reciprocated, and would also involve a US road show, meetings with appropriate media and business leaders in target areas such as Harlem, and Brooklyn in New York, Atlanta Georgia, Washington DC, Chicago, Illinois among others”, she said.
Top among the visitors are; Fathom Away, Travel and Leisure, Conde Nast Traveller, GQ, Time, New York Daily News, The Chicago Tribune and Cuisine Noir. As much as the country would benefit from the trip, Fabiyi noted that the cost implication is great and so WIFTWEN cannot carry the burden alone, and seeks partnerships of the federal and state governments to execute this project in the coming months.
“As we wait for President Muhammadu Buhari to appoint his ministers, we hope that our minister will have the industry at heart and create more than the enabling environment for tourism to thrive in Nigeria. Our endorsement will be updated and necessary contacts made with governments of Lagos, Osun, FCT, Kogi, Edo, Abia, Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Bayelsa and Cross River to create a soft landing for this project”.
To access the preparedness of their would-be host, Elizabeth Scott, a delegate from the US was in the country and also expressed her willingness to the media to visit and see things for themselves.