Like many states of the federation, Plateau State is well endowed with huge tourism resources. In fact, it used to be one of the states with a booming tourism sector untill it became marred by insecurity situations. However, the state government is now working towards bringing back the state’s lost tourism glory.
PLATEAU State is blessed with an accommodating weather and it is located near the centre of Nigeria. The state also has 17 local government areas, six LGAs in the Northern Zone, five at the central zone and another six from the Southern Zone. The numerous tourism attractions has made it a home of peace and tourism and also a tourist haven for many. Our correspondent gathered that before the crisis that rocked the state about a decade ago, people from different parts of the country trooped into the state because of the friendly weather condition and tourism potentials. The scenery and rich cultural and historical heritage and excellent weather give Plateau State strong potential as a destination for tourism and recreation. The state is also home to over 54 ethnic tribes. The present administration in the state spoke passionately about tourism’s investment potentials and its multiplier effect for the state, vowed to boost the tourism sector in order to diversify the economy. Governor Simon Lalong made it clear that his administration would try to complete all relevant abandoned projects in the state. Recently, the governor said the state was doing everything possible to re- embrace tourism which it is known for over the years especially now that peace has returned to the state. The governor said his recent visit to South Africa was aimed at developing tourism in Plateau State. The governor said that “In South Africa, I didn’t go alone. I went with some commissioners and some House of Assembly members and right there in South Africa, we told them what we are doing at every place we visited. It was really to the benefit of Plateau State, specifically it was about tourism. “Our relationship in the area of tourism is obvious; you know Plateau is the home of peace and tourism. We are trying to maintain the peace now. When we achieve that fully, we are going back to tourism. “South Africa is one place that is renowned for tourism, so we went there to see some of the places and also to create partnership with them to come to Plateau and invest in tourism. While we were there, we also explored opportunities to visit sites like the headquarters of Shoprite. We need shopping malls in Plateau, we are building the main market and in addition to that, we are also thinking of having so many shopping malls in the State”, he added. To boost tourism in the state , the state government is planning to organise a carnival to boost tourism potentials. Speaking to newsmen recently, the chairman Organising Committee of Plateau State 2016 Carnival, Eric Takon, underscored the role of the tourism sector as a valuable and sustainable source of livelihood for millions of citizens of the state. Takon disclosed this during the inauguration of the committee for the 2016 Plateau State Peace Carnival. The inauguration was held at the Plateau State Ministry of Tourism. Takon encouraged the people to add their voices to various calls made across the state on the need for the Plateau State Government to put greater emphasis on the development of its tourism sector. He expressed optimism that with the return of peace to Plateau State and its environ, the federal and state governments stand to improve internal revenue generation through the tourism sector. He also said “Plateau State has a better advantage over so many other states to benefit from tourism. We have the advantage of weather and population. I need to emphasise that Plateau has the best of the ingredients of tourism. “We have fascinating tourist sites, enviable cultural festivals, good weather, good and hospitable people”, the chairman said. The Commissioner for Tourism of the state, Hon. Peter Mwankon, said that the proposed Jos carnival committee has the primary purpose of planning, developing and delivering high quality carnival and using the underlying values as a vehicle to engage and advance community cohesion to drive tourism. Remark Ditem, a citizen of the state praised the state government for boosting tourism stressing that he was impressed by the fact that Lalong’s administration was leaving no stone unturned to ensure practical development and promotion of domestic tourism, which will propel job creation, develop the state’s economy and raise social awareness on cultural preservation and environment protection. It could be recalled that in order to boost tourism, Lalong recently said that the long forgotten Roc International Hotel is one of the projects he has penciled down for completion. Roc International Hotel, is an abandoned towering structure at Shere Hills around Lamingo in Jos North Local Government Area of Plateau State. Our correspondent gathered that it was the late Chief Solomon Lar’s government that awarded the contract of the hotel in 1981 to the Flemingdon Dev. (Nig) Limited with the aim of building a five star hotel with 318 rooms on completion. However, 35 years down the line, the hotel has seen different governors attempting to complete it without success but Governor Lalong said his administration would complete it to boost tourism sector. Pius Hommen, another citizen of Plateau who recently spoke to our correspondent said, the state government should be commended for its efforts towards economic
diversification of the state, especially the plans to boost tourism sector. He expressed optimism that if the effort is sustained, it would improve the lives of citizens of the state as well as improve internally generated revenue of the state. Nagelu Garba, another citizen of the state who also spoke to our correspondent said he is postive that Plateau has the potential to generate billions of naira annually from tourism if properly harnessed. He also stressed that Plateau is blessed with a lot of tourist sites and favourable weather that encourage many to visit the state barring security concerns. “The unique weather in Plateau which is usually likened to temperate climate condition of Europe is what every tourist would want to see and experience”. He further stated that, “another serious attraction to tourists is golfing and Plateau is the centre of golf course in Nigeria as it has three compact and standard golf courses”. It would be noted that the state government had recently sponsored and encouraged golfers to visit the state. It is believed that if the current effort to develop the tourism sector is sustained, Plateau State would reclaim its glory as a tourist destination in the country.