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Boost for domestic tourism: The Ekiti example

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Recently, the Ekiti State Government has been making efforts at harnessing and promoting its huge tourism and creative industry potential.

From partnering Duke of Shomolu Foundation, a theatre production company, to stage ‘Fajuyi’, an enthralling play, at Ado Ekiti, last year and furthering the initiative with a theatre festival that will take place later this year, among other creative projects, the state is drawing attention to itself.

Read also: Duke of Shomolu Foundation partners Ekiti State in theatre festival

It has also hosted stakeholders in the tourism industry, especially the Nigerian Association of Tour Operators (NATOP), travel agents, among others.

Again and most importantly, since the concessioning of Ikogosi Warm Springs Resort, its main tourism attraction, to Glocient Hospitality, a subsidiary of Cavitas Group, in 2022, the state has been receiving more visitors at the one-of-its-kind resort.

The resort has also gone ahead to win the Best Holiday Resort in Nigeria for 2023.

It would be recalled that following a 15-year concession awarded by the Ekiti State government to Glocient Hospitality in 2022, the resort, whose history dated back to 1952, entered a new phase of transformation, which has been drawing private, corporate visitors and even government to explore its leisure offerings.

It has also hosted some notable events since its transformation.

One of such events is the recent Federal Government’s Ecogenesis Incubator programme, which is designed to empower residents, tour operators, and guides with essential skills for thriving in the tourism industry.

Speaking at the launch of the programme at Ikogosi, Lola Ade-John, Minister of Tourism, described the Ikogosi Warm Springs Resort and Conference Center as one of the most charming places in Nigeria, and a standout tourist destination.

“I was so impressed when I drove into Ikogosi, the foliage, the greenery, the whole place is charming and enticing,” Ade-John remarked.

For her, the resort’s hiking trails, which she experienced, are adventurous and unique offerings for visitors.

To fully explore the offering at Ikogosi and other hiking destinations in the country, the minister urged Nigerians to embrace hiking clubs.

“Real tourists do not care much about hotels and airports. They want to get to where the action is. It is hiking trails such as this that enable them to connect with the communities in a way that they won’t have anywhere else,” she explained.

Underscoring the significance of community stories in tourism, she said that, “Every community, such as Ikogosi, has a story, and we want to share those stories across the land”.

The minister also used the Ekiti State Ecogenesis Incubator programme launch to reiterate the government’s commitment to partner with the private sector in supporting the growth of tourism at iconic locations such as the Ikogosi Resort, to ensure that they become global tourist hotspots.

But credit goes to Biodun Oyebanji, governor of Ekiti State, who believes in tourism and is supporting the sector to grow and contribute better to the state’s economy.

The governor joined the minister on a tour of the springs on Easter Sunday, while reiterating his commitment to further collaborations that would enable tourism to earn huge revenue for the state.

On his part, Lanre Balogun, general manager, Glocient Hospitality, operators of Ikogosi Resort and Conference Center, expressed gratitude to the federal and state governments for their unwavering support, while highlighting the substantial tourism potential of Nigeria.

He cited the story of Ikogosi since its acquisition by Glocient Hospitality, as a prime example of how tourism can drive economic growth, create employment opportunities, attract foreign investment, while transforming local communities.

“Under the leadership of Niyi John Olajide, our chairman, with the support of the federal and state governments, we will continue to invest in the hospitality sector, creating jobs and adding value to the communities where we operate,” Balogun assured.

Ikogosi Warm Springs Resort is a captivating hospitality and tourist destination nestled in the picturesque town of Ikogosi, Ekiti State, southwestern Nigeria. The resort houses the only confluence of warm and cold-water springs in the world, each maintaining its distinct thermal properties as they flow side by side without mixing, making it a truly memorable destination for tourists from Nigeria and abroad.