By Todimu Ogunade
With an estimated population of over 3.4million and predominated by the Yorubas, Ondo state stands as one of the pillars for tourist explorations in Nigeria.
With the introduction of the Lagos-Akure route flight by Air Peace which is aimed at stimulating industrial and technological growth for investment opportunities, SUNSHINE HERALD, after three days sojourn into unraveling some of the nature endowed places in Ondo state, brings to you sites open to investment opportunities.
It was a short and yet anticipating ride of about twenty minutes from Akure, the state capital to the Smoking Hills Golf Course located on the outskirts of the peaceful town of Ilara Mokin in Ifedore Local Government Area of Ondo state.
The golf course with 140 acres of hilly mounds covered with smokey fog is indeed a sight to behold and it is said to be the biggest in Nigeria.
Cave of Ashes Isharun: An eye opener into major tourist sites in Ondo state; far from expectation
The next journey ushered in the beginning of an endless tide of the woes of a crumbling realm of affairs in the government.
With an intent to create a platform for investment opportunities for tourist sites in Ondo state, the mission to explore and capture the mysteries and beauty of Cave of Ashes was a daunting task.
Located in Isharun, Ile-Oworo, in Ifedore Local Government of Ondo State, the cave is popularly known for its gigantic rocks which vary in shapes and sizes.
History has it that some bones were found and were examined for radiology tests which predicted that people once lived in the cave many years ago.
Sadly, the cave has been under incessant attacks by Fulani Herdsmen who have assaulted some of the villagers and forcefully collected their belongings, hence we could not visit, as a visit to the cave was not safe.
Idanre Hills and its magical wonders
Idanre Hills with six hundred and sixty-five steps to the peak of the mountain remains one of the wonders of nature and a marvelous tourist destination. It was an enduring climb on the famous hill as a wave of triumph swept through while ascending this natures feature. Legend estimates it to be over 800 years. Just fifteen kilometers from the capital city, it offers a haven for tourists and investors alike.
An exploration of the rich culture of Owo people
Owo Museum of Antiques would obviously usher any fun-seeker into the richly unique culture of Owo people with the local musical instrument to the ancestral shrine, “Oju- Ebo” telling the tale.
The ancestral shrine, Oju-Ebo, is a presentation of the complete ancestral shrine, which is composed of collections from various shrines in Owo.
In the heart of Agbabu village in Okitipupa local government lies an abandoned huge reserve of Bitumen.
Geologically, it forms part of the Dahomey basin and arguably the largest bitumen deposit in the world.
After hours of navigating the extremely bad roads to the site, the accompanying villagers disclosed that it had been abandoned for years after a group of foreign investors came to seal it up to prevent any form of disaster.
Nothing much had been done ever since. The pathways had been overgrown with thick grasses and it was almost impossible to locate the place.
Igbo-Olodumare: Deserted and away from civilization
The quest for more discoveries, however, did not drown our disappointments at Igbo-Olodumare located in Okeigbo, Ile Oluji/Okeigbo local government, another haggling down of a sum of 3000 naira ended with no chance of touring the site due to the extremely bad roads that were not motorable except for motorcycles.
Our next journey ushered us into another quest for what could have paved waves in terms of resources for a richly abundant state as Ondo.
Located at Supare-Akoko, Crushed Rock Industries is known for producing polished granites and it is owned by a German
Araromi beach was our zenith point. Located in Ilaje local government area of Ondo state, Araromi is regarded as the largest coastline in West Africa. It was a journey of three hours drive from Akure and one would wonder if tourists who go on various vacations to other parts of the continent are so oblivious of the precious Gift waiting to be explored.
The thought that Ondo state has a beach is surprising enough. It was like traveling many hours from Akure to the end of the road.
It was a sight to behold but unfortunately, away from civilization, lost in its own sphere. The thought that Ondo state has a beach is surprising enough. It was like traveling many hours from Akure to the end of the road.
One cannot relegate the backward factors confronting most tourist sites which range from abandonment, neglect, lack of maintenance from those put in charge and inadequate accessibility.
The impact of tourism is varied based on the socio-economic and political role that it plays. These can only be achieved if resources are channeled and investment opportunities are carried with favourable contributions from the government and The Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
Most tourist sites in Ondo state are located in rural areas where there are little or no job opportunities thus the development of tourism makes it a necessary platform for reducing unemployment and poor standard of living.
Tourism is obviously accorded low priority in the state budgetary allocation and this greatly affects its development and it can be tied to less interest to tourist sites. Poor implementation of government policies retains tourism development on paper without actualization.
Tourism is without reasonable doubts, a platform to thrive on both locally and globally but the question remains, what role is the government willing to pay in fostering the need for investment opportunities for tourist sites to thrive?