Mr Olusegun Runsewe, Director-General (DG), National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC) on Sunday appealed to residents of Benin City to be hospitable to tourists during the 2019 National Festival of Arts and Culture, holding in the city.
Runsewe made the appeal while addressing newsmen at the Akenzua Cultural Centre in Benin, Edo State.
According to him, no less than 500,000 tourists and culture ambassadors are expected to grace this year’s festival.
He urged the indigenes of the state to leave a positive and lasting impression in the mind of tourists.
“I invite Edo State indigenes to come out en-mass and I appeal to them to warmly welcome tourists into the state, make them feel at home, so that at the end of the day, there will be positive stories to be told.
“Benin is truly a culturally friendly state, let people leave with good impression that Benin people love visitors,’’ he said.
Runsewe commended the indigenes for their peaceful co-existence, adding that the 2019 edition of NAFEST would be used to strengthen the nation’s co-existence, as delegates from different states exchange cultural ideas.
He said that the economic activities of the state had improved since delegates started arriving as all hotels in Benin had been fully booked.
“This is a huge platform to empower the people of the state through job creation.
“As you can see, commercial activities are ongoing, all hotels are booked.’’
The DG said that Edo, with a population of over 3.6 million, would experience economic growth as 500,000 tourists were expected at NAFEST.
According to him, the festival will project the state as a state of royalty, just as the theme of the festival “Our Royalty, Our Pride”. stated.
He said Edo was known for royalty as well as the cradle of culture, right from the colonial era till date, due to its rich culture.
“Edo is truly known for royalty, this is the only state where people greet in a royal way,’’ he said.
He identified two important sectors, which are important to nation building, as agriculture and culture.
Runsewe added that when these sectors are properly developed, the nation would be successful.
He said with this consciousness, NCAC had prioritised the promotion of culture over the years through various platforms and NAFEST was one of such platforms.