The Olowo of Owo, Oba Ajibade Ogunoye, on Thursday, said the annual traditional festival of the town known as Igogo Festival would attract no less than 500,000 foreign and local tourists to Ondo State every year.
The first-class monarch noted that 500,000 tourists coming down to witness the annual festival would be of immense economic benefits to the ancient city and the state in general.
Oba Ogunoye stated this during a press conference on the 2023 Igogo Festival at his palace in Owo, Owo Local Government Area of the state.
The monarch, who mentioned that his reign had introduced some innovative measures to the annual Igogo Festival to attract tourists, expressed optimism that the festival would open wealth creation avenues, upscale the small-scale businesses of cloth weaving and artistries and promote general uplift of the socio-economic development of Owo.
He said, “As you are aware, Igogo Festival is the most celebrated in Owo Kingdom. Annually, its celebration comes with pumps and pageantry. Through the festival, we want to see this ancient town transformed into a hive of colourful activities that will attract tourists and bring economic fortunes to our domain.
“Our goal is to galvanise the festival to produce an economic impact of $1 billion yearly. We are very serious about its effect and target. Talks are on with our diaspora sons and daughters to explore the low-hanging commercial fruit and advantages which the festival portends for the economic boom of our people.
“Under my watch, the Igogo Festival is to witness a rebirth in content and package to attract over 500,000 people yearly at its peak.
“It is my desire to give the Igogo Festival a 21st-century outlook by making its processes and activities richer. To this end, some complementary events will be added to the 2024 Igogo Festival celebrations as they will be unveiled today.”
The Olowo explained that the Igogo Festival would from 2024 be embellished with Oroshen Beauty Pageant Competition where a queen would emerge and be given a handsome prize after a parade of beauties showcasing Owo food, clothes, hairdo and dancing steps.
According to him, the Igogo Festival Market had been added to the festival in the form of a trade fair. He explained that the market would afford individuals to exhibit assorted goods and services of the ancient town.
Oba Ogunoye also hinted that he had introduced Owaloko into the annual festival whereby the Olowo would be seated in his full royalty and splendour to relate with his subjects, visitors, tourists and well-wishers in an open place and the occasion would afford the monarch the opportunity to bless the people of Owo and thank all for participating in the festival.
He enjoined tourists from all over the world to feel free and enjoy the hospitality of the Owo people during the 17-day festival, which he described as the largest and oldest cultural festival in the history of Sub-Saharan Africa.