There are every indication that Ekiti, one of the South Western States of Nigeria which prides itself as fountain of knowledge is no doubt beginning to show its new colour as land of honour, what with the efforts of the helmsman to place the State in the world`s tourism map.
The bespectacled man of style, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, the executive governor of Ekiti State is at present on a threshold of record to turn the state`s historic habitats to a haven of international standard, thereby exposing its tourism potentials leading to an increase in economic activities.
The amiable Governor sure deserves more than applause for his admirable steps at reviving the dilapidated Ikogosi resort project which has been abandoned by past administrations. A recent visit to the famous Ikogosi warm and cold spring Resorts which is the key focus of Tourism in the state would tell you that the current administration is stopping at nothing in ensuring that the God’s given wonders is set to be turned into one of the biggest places of interests not only in Nigeria but the world over.
According to the words of Dr. Fayemi during a recent breakfast meeting with Tourism writers of which your soar away magazine, National Enquirer is a prominent member, the dynamic man informed us in his office that, the first phase of the project which is intended to gulp well over a billion Naira is billed to be inaugurated on or before October this year, 2012.
The Waterfall, until the executive Governor of the state assumed office was gradually becoming appalling as well as losing its natural values, and in order to substantiate the tax payers` money being spent on the project, Dr. Fayemi has handed over the management to foreign experts, a South Africa based Tourism development firm, Mantis collection.
And this was corroborated with a chat with John Dixon, the general manager of Mantis collection who has this to say “what’s key in tourism is location and Ikogosi springs resort is in a beautiful location”.” We’ve seen the sincerity of purpose of Ekiti Government”, ‘’I am impressed with the passion of every member of the government team’’, he added. He also chipped it in that part of Mantis mandate is to train and manage members of the community in helping to run the resorts. ‘’Only the top executives will be South Africans, the remaining work force will be Nigerians, we know this is part of the multiplying effect of tourism and will work towards it’’ he concluded.
Another fascinating discovery about the transformation process going on in Ikogosi resorts is the maintenance of its original values such as the McGee Camp which is named after the Baptist Missionary that built the chapel.
After its completion, the resorts would sure be in contention with international tourism resorts as its been divided into three major phases with the first phase (Mc Gee Camp) having the 3-star areas such as the JKF Chalets which comprises of 32 rooms, the warm spring site, the Western Chalets and the villa. The first phase would be officially opened in October 2012 with a total of 100 rooms, accommodation for every class ranging from the upper to the middle and then lower class will be provided.
The senior special assistant to the governor on Tourism Development, Sesan Obidiran, in an interactive session further narrated the format the reconstruction would take after completion. ‘’ the McGee Camp would have about 24 rooms with bunk for 48 students, at the Villa, we met four and we are adding eight to make it 12 which is for VIPs, while the western chalet is for the choice category.’’ ‘’The McGee camp also has the conference center which can sit 300 guests, the shopping mall, the business centre, restaurant, bar, music centre and a chapel for religious tourists’’. The SSA speaking further also explained that the amphitheatre which is located behind the McGee camp is specially designed for people to hold all kinds of events. On how much the first phase of the project gulped? Mr. Sesan in response revealed that the whole project is being financed by the Ekiti state Government and would gulp 1.35 Billion Naira which would be worth it all the way.
The Governor Kayode Fayemi’s Speech with Tourism Writers.
Speaking on what informed his interest in the tourism sector, Gov. Fayemi said’’ my desire to transform Ekiti especially Ikogosi warm spring into a resort of international standard attracting the jet set crowd of the society, tourists and travel-enthusiasts lured me into this, you’ve not seen anything yet. What you have seen is just a caricature of the real thing that we are putting on ground. The facilities and structures which are there now are just for the first phase of the three phases initiative which will culminate in a golf course, a helipad, a games village, a wild life park, a cable car and other range of tourists facilities’’.
The governor added that this has always been the desire of the people of Ekiti State stating that the first phase will tell the world considering their confidence, supports and understanding and thus enable the execution of the two other phases.
Speaking further, Gov. Fayemi disclosed that his education and exposure having travelled to different parts of the world played a huge role in his yearning for a tourism state though he also have special interests in anything which will add value to the development of the society, particularly any project which is capable of changing the status of the common people for better. ‘’ I sure know the important of importing a deluge of people; I mean heavy traffic to a state, I mean heavy tourist traffic to a state. I know what and what to put in place to have this effect in any creative environment which Ikogosi Warm springs offers. I also know that tourism propels an economy by mobilizing wealth, creates employment, empowering and initiating development.
On why he chooses to tow a different part and not follow the style of his predecessor who did not see the need to transform the resorts into a tourism village?
It will be wrong for me to follow the line of my predecessor because the fact is, I see what they didn’t see in Ikogosi, I know the economic wonder which the full enhancement of Ikogosi Warm Spring will perform in the lives of my people, the Economy of the state and Nigeria. This is why my government is making it a priority of development. And I assure you, we will not rest on our oars until Ikogosi warm spring becomes the best tourism resort in Nigeria.
The governor did not also hesitate to shed lights on the sustainability plan for the multi billion naira project.’’ My exposure and interactions with people of different races as well as my understanding of how and why organizations, companies and concerns crumbled have enabled me to know that tourism vision is not only about building great edifices, planting out-of-this-world infrastructure and mounting first class facilities but what can make it sustainable is the richness of service which it renders. And that’s why we have put up with Mantis, we are looking for a partner that understands rural resorts, that understands theme park, a partner that knows how to run a games reserve, a partner that can combine all with operating a hotel in the city. ‘’ we made research and we found out Mantis squarely fits in better than others who are mainly good at operating chains of hotels in various cities of the world’’. He concluded by saying that working with Mantis is a blessing because it was realized that the group had previously carried out a detailed research on Ikogosi forest and has the list of all unique flora and fauna which are endemic to the place. In his conclusion, Dr. Fayemi has mandated the team of the Tourism Writers to make sure they monitor and repeat the visit come October when the project`s first phase will be brought to bear. These are some of the pictures of the project