Every town and village in Oyo State has one or two cultural and touristic stories, sites, heritages (natural or man-made) of unique value to put the name of the town(s) on the world map, if given promotional driving force to strategically market them to the world.
This, among other objectives, is the reason for the creation of a global day of celebrating the all-inclusive business value chain industry called tourism and those who have long taken advantage of the industry today are now referred to as global champions and point of reference of tourism.
However, the 2020 World Tourism Day celebration was an ample opportunity for Idere a town in Ibarapa area of Oyo State, to showcase its rich tourism potential. Indeed, the revered ancestral settlement of the Idere people recently celebrated on the social media (Idere Hills) hosted thousands of sons and daughters of the town, friends and tourists as they explored the hills with many wonders, amidst cultural performance, folk songs and beautiful display of the people’s raw heritage.
Organised by the Oyo State government as one of its out-of-the box surprise packages to develop and promote tourism, the programme shows Governor Seyi Makinde’s determination to better the lot of the people through the value chain of the tourism sector.
The journey to Idere town from Ibadan was almost smooth but for some patches of the roads which need immediate upgrade. This elicited mixed feelings from some of the industry participants who joined the convoy of over 50 vehicles to the Idere town for the Idere hills’ expedition and hiking.
The wonders on the Idere Hills are better experienced than being told as most of the rock formations and arrangements, landscapes, sceneries and mystery behind the relics of the fore-bearers of the Idere people who lived on-top of the mountain tell more about the ingenuity of the people of Idere and their civilization.
Do you know that Idere Hills share the same uphill mystery of water reservoir with the Ado Awaye Suspended Lake as it also has, among many, a triangular suspended lake location with different shapes and stories tied to it?
The mysteries on the Idere Hills are unlimited and no one can completely explore all the wonders of the hills because the more you explore, the more you discover new things. Many visitors to the hills have posted pictures of rock formations and the suspended lake, which are just a fragment of the beauty of the hills? Do you know that the people go uphill daily for their primary occupation, which is farming, as well as other ecosystem; fauna, fora and other unique plants and flowers that survive on the rock and hills.?
However, the Oyo State government has promised to bring meaningful development to the touristic essence of Idere town through the strategic development of Idere Hills to promote domestic tourism in Ibarapa and the state at large.
The Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Dr Wasiu Olatunbosun who visited the Idere enclave in company of the Special Adviser to the Governor on Culture and Tourism, Hon Ademola Ige; a strong team of the ministry, and the member of Oyo State Tourism Board, disclosed this after a two-hour hiking expedition on the legendary Idere Hills.
Dr Olatunbosun, who expressed optimism on the tourism agenda of the governor said that the step taken to celebrate this year’s World Tourism Day at the Idere Hills is a clear indication of the governor’s determination to change the tourism landscape of the town and, by extension, the state at large. He noted that the state has more than enough attraction to drive international patronage.
He added that today’s new step in tourism will be pivotal to many unprecedented fortune for the development of domestic tourism in Oyo State.
Olatunbosun said, “Tourism brought us to this place. We decided to celebrate this year’s World Tourism Day in a unique way by coming to domestic tourism destination, which is a far departure from what we used to do, which is normally an indoor event where we sit and educate each other on tourism.
“We decided to take a leap this year to reach out to a unique destination and we picked Ibarapa and the Idere Hills was just a place of note that fits the World Tourism Day celebration with the theme ‘Tourism and Rural Development.’
The Commissioner also assured the community of a new tone of things, calling for proposal from private organisations to develop the tourism potential in Idere.
“We will also be expecting the private sector to key into our Public, Private sector Partnership bid to make Idere Hills another haven for tourist patronage.
“I must tell you that today is the beginning of better things for Idere as you will start receiving tourists in their droves. But one thing I must advise is that you must now increase your spirit of hospitality and be more accommodating.”
In his remarks, the Senior Adviser on Culture and Tourism to Governor Makinde, Hon Ige, said tourism is a great engine for economic and social development as it creates avenue to generate new jobs, attract investments and develop local communities.
He said, “For many rural communities, tourism has brought about futuristic opportunities, providing jobs and economic empowerment. I believe this is a very positive way of looking at tourism as it highlights how the sector can enhance a better understanding and appreciation of different cultures.
“I must tell you that the Oyo State government under the leadership of Seyi Makinde is taking efforts to ensure that the state fully leverages on tourism by adequately promoting the potential of tourism to create job opportunities and the unique economy of the state.
“I am happy to inform you that processes are ongoing to concession some of the tourism sites which are in a comatose situation to some developers and investors for rehabilitation and refurbishment.”
Speaking at the event, the chairman of the World Tourism Day celebration and member of the House of Representative, Hon Ajibola Muriana, commended Governor Makinde, the Commissioner of Information, the oba and pople of Idere, describing the hosting of the 2020 tourism day at Idere town as a paradigm shift in the anal of the event in the state.
Muriana explained that Idere Hills is one of the most beautiful natural landscapes in Nigeria.
“Taking a look around, you will enjoy the sights and sound of a unique ecosystem around which the various cultural sites revolve, among which are the Onidere ancient palace, Fish Lake, Aroye Hill Atapa Water, 600-year-old defence wall, Iyara Walls, Natural swimming pool and so on,” he said.
The Onidere of Idere land, Oba Kingsley Onikola Oyelami, Olufiji II, who was happy for the prominence given to the town because of the natural splendour, gifted the land by God, lauded the unprecedented steps taken by Governor Makinde for the epic gathering on the Idere Hills for the World Tourism Day event, praying that his tenure will bring more fortune to Oyo State beyond his imaginations.
The Oba who also walk the talked alongside the mammoth crowd to and from the summit of the Idere Hills, called on the government to put them in mind in making sure that the promise of bringing development through public and private sector participation sees the light of the day. He said it would not only help to open the town to the world but would help to bring about socio-economic development to the people and by extension, pay off for other tourism value chain industry players within and outside the community and even the state.
Among the stakeholders are Federation of Tourism Association of Nigeria (FTAN), National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA) Oyo State Hoteliers Association, Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) Nigeria association of Tour Operators, Nigeria Seven Wonder team, 100 Top Tourism Personalities in Nigeria, among others.
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