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    Food tourism drives local economies, promotes communalism – Gov. Diri’s tourism aide

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    Bayelsa Government says local Ijaw delicacies remain veritable sources of economic boosters for the Niger Delta region.

    Dr Piriye Kiyaramo, Senior Special Assistant (SSA) on Tourism to Gov Douye Diri, said this on Tuesday.

    He spoke on the occasion of the commemoration of 2023 World Food Day, with the theme: “History, And Everything You Need To Know” in Yenagoa.

    Kiyaramo, facilitator of the South-South Tourism Roundtable Initiative, called on the Ijaws to trace and document its food culture, adding that “food tourism supports sustainable tourism as food evokes a sense of community and pleasant memories of destinations.”

    Kiyaramo, who doubles as Director-General of the Ernest Ikoli Visitor Information Centre, Yenagoa, noted that food, being part of the rich Ijaw cultural heritage, was usually shared within and between communities, while adapting to changing circumstances in the local settings.

    According to the tourism practitioner, the development of food culture can help a tourist destination draw new visitors as food often reflects an entire nation’s eating habits.

    He explained that culinary tourism could teach visitors valuable cultural lessons.

    “Food tourism can also be a way to support local economies and promote sustainable tourism.

    “By patronizing local restaurants and food producers, travelers can contribute to the local economy and help preserve culinary traditions,” Kiyaramo said.

    He said sharing meals with others could bring people together, promote socialization, and foster a sense of belonging.

    He explained whether in a family gathering, a community feast, or a religious celebration, “food is often used as a way to mark important events, bringing people together which creates the sense of community among the people.”

    According to the governor’s aide, sometimes local food may carry related culinary practices such as the use of chopsticks and among others with existing culinary traditions to form new syncretic cuisines.

    “Such like that of the Tex-Mex food, a subtype of Southwestern cuisine found in the American Southwest, which evolved from a combination of Mexican and US Southwest food traditions.”

    Kiyaramo further explained that although food culture was adaptable, food was tightly linked to people’s cultural identities or the ways they defined and distinguished themselves from other groups of people.

    According to him, food also travels across cultures perhaps more often and with more ease than any other traditions.

    The renowned tourism expert commended the President of the Ijaw National Congress (INC), Prof. Benjamin Okaba, for inaugurating a committee on Ijaw Culture, chaired by the Chief Historian and Archivist of Bayelsa State, Dr Stephen Olali, recently.

    He noted that food had been part of cultural identities, explaining further that the term cuisine had been used to refer to specific cultural traditions of cooking, preparation, and consumption of food.

    According to him, while the urban areas may tend to shift and adapt cuisine more frequently than rural communities, those aspects of cuisine most tightly linked to the people’s identity tend to change slowly in all settings as also applicable to the Ijaw nation.

    The governor’s tourism aide said there was an urgent need for the Ijaws to make frantic efforts to sustain their food culture with a view to properly documenting and preserving it for posterity.

    He made reference to the Japanese short-grain rice “which plays an important role in Japanese identity.”

    Kiyaramo said a food culture where a plate of food containing white rice on one half and a stew with chunks of beef, potatoes, and carrots on the other half which originated from the cultural heritage of a particular food culture has today spread round the world.

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    FAAN: Improvement of Passenger Facilitation, Security Gave Boost to Tourism

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    FAAN: Improvement of Passenger Facilitation, Security Gave Boost to Tourism

    The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) said that its improvement of airport facilities, passenger facilitation and security has encouraged tourism in Nigeria.

    The agency said that the drastic action taken by the Managing Director, Mrs. Olubunmi Kuku against touting at the airports has brought sanity and orderliness to the satisfaction of travellers.

    Kuku identified some of these achievements when she spoke at the Wings of Change Focus Africa Conference (WOCFA) overseen by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) last week; held in Johannesburg, South Africa.

    A statement signed by the Director, Public Affairs & Consumer Protection, Obiageli Orah, said FAAN has recently taken steps to make Nigeria’s airports safe and accessible by genuine tourists and travellers and has also made efforts to eliminate touting and other forms of criminal conducts around the airports.

    FAAN boss also spoke on the recent creation of a dedicated Department for Cargo Services in the agency, as stakeholders emphasized the need for improvement of trade facilitation, including air cargo facilities and infrastructure, cargo compliance, closer collaboration amongst African countries and Stakeholders as well as Cargo Specialized Training for stakeholders.

    There was emphasis on digitalization of passenger processing and how the embrace of robotics technology by airports in Africa would help to give customers further experience of speed, efficiency and excellence. The use of technology to drive efficiency has been part of FAAN’s priority agenda under the present dispensation.

    Making his input on the first day of the conference, the Minister of Aviation & Aerospace Development, Mr. Festus Keyamo, emphasised the need for removal of visa restrictions to enable free movement of people and goods across the continent, stating that to achieve this, there is need to work with Foreign Affairs Ministers across Africa.

    The Minister equally made a case for adequate funding of air transport in Africa.

    Also speaking at the event, IATA,s Regional Vice President, Africa & Middle East, Kamil Alawadhi called for pursuit of net zero carbon emissions by 2050, which constitutes part of FAAN’s recent programmes.

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    Ekiti is safe for tourists’ traffic-Ojo-Lanre

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    Ekiti is safe for tourists’ traffic-Ojo-Lanre

    Following the Ekiti State renewed effort to attract tourist’s influx to the numerous wonder sites scattered around the state and especially the flag destination, Ikogosi Warm and Cold Springs Resort, the Director-General of Ekiti State Bureau of Tourism Development, Ambassador Wale Ojo-Lanre, has said that the state is safe with the level of security architecture put in by the government.

    Ojo-Lanre disclosed this to tourism writers, on ground to see the new face of Ikogosi Warm and Cold Spring Resort and noted that Ikogosi, which is the new pride of the state, is perfectly safe and welcoming to tourists.

    Clearing the air on anxieties of insecurity in the state, Ojo-Lanre said the recounted bouts happened on the suburbs of Ekiti, maintaining that the tourism zones like Ikogosi community and its environ are safe.

    He said there were cautious efforts by the state government to secure tourists. “I don’t want to expose our security strategy, but I can tell you that we are the only state that has a homeland security as a parastatal under my agency. We know what is going on. When the road is not safe, tourism is in danger,” he stated.

    Meanwhile the Ekiti State government is fine-tuning plans to develop a tourism master plan, a working blueprint to practically explore and develop products and services to create and drive the economy of the state.

    Ojo-Lanre explained that for any serious state to enhance its tourism potentialities to the expected capacity, it must first develop a tourism master plan.

    “A tourism development master plan is a necessity for any state that wants to develop and the state governor, Biodun Abayomi Oyebanji, emphasised that the first thing we have to do is to develop a tourism master plan for Ekiti and we started.

    “We have started drafting our tourism policy and we have identified the consultants to work on our tourism master plan. It would be delivered between August and October this year,” Ojo-Lanre added.

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    Eliminate insurgents at Kainji Park

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    Eliminate insurgents at Kainji Park

    KAINJI National Park, an expansive natural reserve in Niger State covering an area of about 5,341 square kilometres, and known for its biodiversity and rich cultural heritage, has unfortunately garnered attention for a much more sinister reason. A recent report revealed that the park has become a haven for terrorists. This alarming development calls for urgent and decisive action to reclaim the park and ensure the safety of the wildlife and the surrounding communities.

    The Clingendael Institute, a Dutch think-tank, in a new report, said there is ample evidence Islamic terrorists from the Sahel have crossed into Nigeria through the Benin Republic border. The jihadis believed to be of the ISWAP sect, were said to have settled in Kebbi State and the KNP, turning the facility into their base.

    In reaction, the Director, Defence Media Operations, Edward Buba said the military was conducting operations in terrorist enclaves in the North-Central, which includes the KNP. A targeted military assault to root out the terrorists should not be delayed.

    The presence of terrorists in Kainji is a stark reminder of the broader security challenges that Nigeria faces. These groups exploit the remote and dense forest areas as strategic hideouts, using the park as a base for planning and executing attacks.

    The insurgents are engaged in poaching, logging, and mining, weakening the park’s protection, and further endangering the flora and fauna. The local communities have deserted their homes for IDP camps while several kidnapped persons are being held captive by the criminals.

    The park, part of Nigeria’s first and largest protected area, is home to wildlife, including elephants, lions, and numerous bird species. The park encompasses Kainji Lake, a critical resource. The terrorists’ invasion poses significant national security implications for Nigeria.

    Kainji Dam, which plays a crucial role in Nigeria’s hydroelectric power generation and irrigation systems, is located near the KNP. The dam’s presence within the park means that any security threats to the park, such as terrorist occupation, directly impact the safety and functionality of this critical infrastructure.

    Any attack on the dam or other facilities could disrupt electricity generation, affecting millions of Nigerians and causing significant economic and social upheaval.

    The seizure of the park by the insurgents has severe humanitarian implications. Local communities, who depend on the park for their livelihoods through fishing, farming, and tourism, live in fear. The terrorists’ activities disrupt economic activities, displace families, and create an environment of instability.

    Nigeria has suffered huge losses to Boko Haram and ISWAP rebels since 2009 when the militants started fighting the state. Human losses and displacements, especially in the North-East epicentre, are horrendous.

    To reclaim the park from the insurgents, an immediate and well-coordinated military action is essential. This intervention should be precise to avoid collateral damage to the park’s ecosystem and local communities. Empowering local security forces with training and resources can help maintain security once the initial military operations are completed. Establishing a permanent security presence in and around the park will prevent the terrorists from reoccupying it.

    Leveraging international support and expertise in counterterrorism and conservation can enhance Nigeria’s efforts. Partnerships with global conservation organisations can also help restore and protect the park’s biodiversity post-conflict. Implementing advanced monitoring and surveillance technologies, such as drones and satellite imagery, can provide real-time information on illegal activities and movement within the park, enabling quicker and more effective responses.

    Restoring the park to its rightful status as a sanctuary for wildlife and a resource for sustainable development is not only a national imperative but a global one. The world is watching, and President Bola Tinubu must rise to this challenge, demonstrating resilience and determination in adversity.

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