By Taiye Olayemi
Lagos – As the world marks the World Tourism Day, the Kwara Development Foundation (KWADEF) has urged Kwara government to tap into the abundant tourism potential of the state.
Dr Kolawole Afolabi, KWADEF’s President made the call in a statement on Saturday in Lagos.
Afolabi said that the group observed that the reality of an economy without reliance on crude oil earnings had become one of the fall outs of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Afolabi said since Kwara played no direct part in petroleum-based economy except as a recipient of federal revenue, the government should therefore key into the new reality.
He urged the state government to tap into the new goldmine, which tourism represents worldwide.
He identified tourism landmarks in the state to include Owu waterfalls, which was one of the highest and most spectacular waterfalls in West Africa and was sometimes referred to as “wonder in the wildernesses”.
He said the state was also endowed with the ancestral rocky mountain in Ora similar to Olumo rock in Ogun.
“Awon Festival is another attraction held annually at Shao in remembrance of Awon goddess.
“During the festival all marriageable girls are given out in marriage in one day.
“The present Emir’s palace located at Oja-Oba market in Ilorin, the official residence of the Emir of Ilorin that was built in 1993 is a popular tourist attraction.
“Visitors can be shown round by the palace guards known as Dongari, who wear red and green outfits and turbans and there is also the annual Durban during every Sallah period.
“The first Ilorin central mosque was founded in 1820, the present central mosque is an architectural masterpiece that attracts visitors from all over the city and beyond.
“These sites are supposed to be attracting local and international patronage if Kwara government makes enough publicity and marketing,” he said.
KWADEF’s President explained that Kwara stood a great chance of surviving the current economic downturn facing the entire globe, if government could focus more on cultural tourism.
He advised the state to forge a solid partnership with foreign countries in developing and marketing tourism to enhance the patronage of local and foreign tourists.
Afolabi said Dada Pottery located at Okelele quarters in Ilorin is one of the biggest traditional pottery factories in the country with other pottery making centres in Okekura, Oloje and Abemi.
He said that another notable tourist attraction in Kwara was the Mungo Park Cenotaph in Jebba, which was a monument erected in memory of the activities of the European explorers likewise the Esie Museum.
“Esie museum is in a town 53km southeast of Ilorin in Irepodun Local Government Area, is the first museum in Nigeria established in 1945, it houses thousands of unique stone images that were found in 1775.
“Many myths surround the historical origin of these images that tell a lot about an older civilisation, the museum houses the largest number of stone images in Black Africa.
“Also Patigi Beach located along River Niger enjoys a bounteous stretch of sandy beach currently used by local fishermen, a regatta pavilion is constructed on the beach makes the place fun to be.
“Ahoyaya Falls in Jebba is a pleasant site in the rainy season, its framing waters descend on the blackish rock in a confusing pattern, the beauty and perfection could not be described by the dexterous brush of any artist.
“Other places of interest include Owe Kajita falls, tomb of past Emirs and Obo Aiyegunle lakes, these are places we beckon on government to develop for tourism development and wealth creation,” he said.
Afolabi said that KWADEF was a non-partisan group of committed patriots.
“Our focus is on Kwara and Kwarans in the collective struggle to chart a new path to prosperity and happiness.
“Our focus is also to intervene and give direction to the people of Kwara as we collectively march toward the much desired promised land where the long lost milk and honey will be found in an atmosphere of shared prosperity for all our people,” he said. (NAN)