Tourism: French Govt To Expand Bilateral Relationship With Oyo State

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By; BAYO AKAMO, Ibadan


Head of the French Institute for Research in Africa and Leader of a team from French Embassy, Dr Vincent Hiribarren on Tuesday hinted said the French Government is determined to expand its bilateral relationship with Oyo State.  
Dr Hiribarren dropped this hint in Ibadan during the team’s visit to the Oyo State Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism and a tourist site, Ado-Awaye hill. 
The leader of the team stressed that in doing,, the French government will fashion a new way to develop tourism in Oyo State as well as stay engaged with the state and seek ways to explore its tourism potentials in different archaeological and historical sites
“Currently, France is seeking to help the Oyo State government to document its tourism potentials. This is the first working visit to the state’s tourism sites”, he said

Dr Hiribarren added, “the field visit to potential archaeological sites in Oyo State would afford us the opportunity to assess them, with the aim of developing an archaeological project”. 
The Head of French Institute for Research in Africa, stressed that 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 will consummate the state’s economic diplomacy upgrade. 
“We will ensure this is established as part of UNESCO tourism sites, such that it will influence tourists and improve the rating and cultural heritage of the community”
He added that the visit was an attempt to build on the priorities set by the French Government, saying 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” 
Speaking further, Dr. Vincent Hiribarren promised the French Government’s support to Oyo State, in ensuring the full digitisation of its archaeological documents, archival materials and cultural heritage.
The French delegation stressed that the relics put up for consideration include Idere Relics, Kunrunmi Relics, Iyake Suspended Lake Ado Awaye & Aso Ofi centre, Iseyin (home of weavers). 
“This official visit to the State is marked with a trip to the famous Ado-Awaye hill where we discovered big tourism potentials such as the Iya’ke suspended lake, the Iya’laro lake and an ancient cave”. 
During the visit, the team  toured studios and archives of the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism with the aim of developing a project on digitalisation of archival materials and training of personnel. 
Receiving the team, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, Dr. ‘Bunmi Babalola appreciated the French Government for the visit, which he noted will increase the volume of economic impact on the people of Ado-Awaye. 
Dr Babalola promised the State Government’s full support to prioritize the tourism sector, which will in turn expand the State’s economy. 
The Alado of Ado-awaye, HRM, Oba Sunday Oladapo Oyediran said the community has waited long for the realisation of this age-long dream, adding that the community hosts the only natural suspended lake in the African continent, the Monarch added that the development will not only enhance tourism potentials in the state, but curb criminality and other vices. 
The French Embassy Mission included, Professor Gerard Chouin (Williams & Mary USA), Dr. Vincent Hiribarren (Director IFRA Nigeria), Ms. Lea ROTH (Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne), Prof. R. A. Alabi (Head of Department of Archaeology UI), Joseph Ayodokun (Department of Archaeology UI and Field officer of IFRA Nigeria’s Archaeological Projects) and Patrick Babalola (Archivist , IFRA Nigeria).

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