Tourism Icon, Otunba Wanle Akinboboye’s Tourism product No 28 is ‘Transforming Attractions to Destinations’.

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In delivering this week’s tourism product, Otunba Olawanle Akinboboye, apologized over the delay, which he attributed to his rather very tight schedule, and work on a project related to this week’s tourism product as well.

He recalled that, in the last 40 years development of the tourism industry in Nigeria, he has always stressed the importance of creating tourism destinations.

Otunba Akinboboye said that, Nigeria has numerous geographical and other attractions that includes beaches, hills, waterfalls, historical landmarks and so on. However, it has failed to transform many of these tourist attractions into tourism destinations, which is essential in creating a viable tourism industry in Nigeria and providing employment and economic empowerment to numerous communities across Nigeria.

The tourism icon, Otunba Olawanle Akinboboye explained that, when tourists visit an attraction, they will only expend money at that location if it contains infrastructure that encourages such expenditure. The required infrastructure includes decent accommodation, places to eat and drink, apparatus for sporting and leisure activities, tourist knick knacks and so on.

When such infrastructure is present. it enhances the tourism experience and encourage the tourist (whether local or international) to spend the money he has put aside for his visit. It also encourages repeat visits.

By providing things the tourist wants to use or purchase at a tourism attraction, you encourage him/her to spend, and this ultimately benefits the economies of the communities in the immediate vicinity of the attraction.

Otunba Akinboboye emphasized that tourist attractions, by themselves, do not bring sustained and significant economic upliftment to the communities in which they are located. It is only when such attractions have been transformed into tourism destinations that their adjacent communities can truly take advantage of the economic advantages they give rise to.

Otunba Akinboboye mentioned that in Nigeria there are 774 Local Government Areas. He also noted that each local government area contains at least one potential tourism attraction which, if properly presented and managed, could become a tourism destination.

While there may be a fear that transforming so many attractions into destinations would be extremely expensive, Otunba Akinboboye is of the view that the current world focus on Eco – tourism means that countries like Nigeria could build tourism destinations that are targeted at eco tourists, and which can leverage off traditional architecture and used equipment for sports and activities that has a traditional bent.

This would give our tourism destinations an African ambiance and promote our culture in a manner that would appeal to international tourists that are focused on obtaining new and unique experiences through tourism.

In support of his thinking, Otunba Akinboboye pointed to the rise of luxury camping trips or glamping in Europe and in Kenya. This involved the use of tent as accommodation. He also spoke about the thousands of European tourists that backpacked through Asia and stayed in fairly basic accommodation so they could experience something new.

Otunba Akinboboye then spoke about his experience developing a tourism attraction into a tourism destination. He noted that when he first came across attraction, it consisted of a site bordered by the ocean and which contained both a lagoon and mangrove forest. Although those three natural features were interesting, they would not have attracted the tourism traffic required to make them economically beneficial.

He therefore weaved a Resort – La Campagne Tropicana – around these natural attractions. In particular he built unique accommodation, installed sporting facilities and made provision for African centrex entertainment. By doing this, he transformed these natural attractions into a tourism destination which local and international tourists could visit for recreation.

Otunba Akinboboye noted that the transformation of these attractions to a tourism destination provided economic benefits for the surrounding communities. The Resort employs workers from the surrounding villages and therefore generate employment for young people who otherwise would have migrated to the city. The closest village; Ikegun, which, when the Resort was first founded, could d only boast of 4 concrete structures now counts its concrete houses in hundreds and even has its own petrol station.

Otunba Akinboboye mentioned that he was currently transforming a tourism attraction in Ondo town, Ondo, which consists of rocky hills, caves and forest, into a tourism destination, which will take the form of Resort.

He mention that the Resort, which was nearing completion, made use of the the caves to create a unique ‘restaurant’ and‘ night club’, which unlike other so called cave restaurants was completely natural not man made.

The Resort also provide accommodation that is aligned to the Afrocentric architecture used by the La Campagne brand.

It was anticipated that visitors to the Ondo Resort would be able to hike in the forest, while swimming in the pools that form part of the Resort and playing tennis on its tennis court.

Otunba Akinboboye noted that in line with the operating procedures he adopted, while transforming tourism attractions to tourism destination, which he refers to as SCC – Structure – Culture and Clientele – he would now be focusing on generating clientele for the new Resort.

He mentioned that the Ondo Resort would be hosting an Asun Carnival on 27 April 2024. This carnival leverages off and celebrates ‘Asun’ a popular culinary item synonymous with the people of Ondo.

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