France in its ambition to boost the bilateral relationship between her Country and Oyo State and resolved to embark on a new means of tourism development in the Oyo State, using her Embassy in Nigeria.
French Embassy relayed this development over the weekend when they visited the State Ministry of Information, Culture, and Tourism and a tourist site, Ado-Awaye hill.
Dr Vincent Hiribarren, who led the French Delegation, in his speech during the visit, said the country is determined to stay engaged with Oyo State and find ways to explore its tourism potentials in different archaeological and historical sites.
His words, “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, “the field visit to potential archaeological sites in Oyo State would allow us to assess them, to develop an archaeological project”.
The team also visited the studios and archives of the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism to develop a project on digitalisation of archival materials and training of personnel.
Dr Vincent Hiribarren also guaranteed that the French Government’s will endlessly support Oyo State, in ensuring the full digitisation of its archaeological documents, archival materials and cultural heritage.
The team later met with the management of the Ministry to discuss the possible projects to be developed based on the assessments made.
The French delegation added 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”.
Dr Hiribarren, who heads the French Institute for Research in Africa, 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 added 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 said.
Adding that the visit as a means to build on the priorities established by the French Government, emphasising that 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 added.
Speaking earlier, Dr. ‘Bunmi Babalola, the Permanent Secretary of, Ministry of Information, Culture, and Tourism, lauded the French Government for the visit, which he said 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, as it will 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.
He added that the community is home to the only natural suspended lake in the African continent, the Monarch further noted that the development will not only boost tourism potentials in the state but tackle 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).