The Warm Springs at Ikogosi in Ekiti West Local Government Area of Ekiti State is one tourist attraction that has over the years remained largely untapped. Despite the fact that the tourist attraction, which has remained largely a mystery, is known to be one of the best tourists’ appeal worldwide with thousands travelling from far and wide to visit, facilities at the resort centre were very poor. The state of the facilities at the springs arguably demonstrated the ignorance of successive administrations in Ekiti State about the emergence of tourism as a revenue yielding sector.
Except for the Otunba Niyi Adebayo administration which put the Ikogosi Warm Spring and Resort to use and rehabilitated the chalets, nothing much was done to put the resort in its pride of place in the comity of world class tourist centres.
It is worthy of note that the resort hosted the First Ekiti Economic Summit in 2000 with the slain Attorney General and Minister of Justice, the Chief Bola Ige as the chairman.
However with the exit of the Adebayo-administration from power, the warm spring and resort became largely neglected while facilities in the centre were carted away by unknown persons. The chalets were overgrown with weeds and became hideout for reptiles of different species as well as criminals and people of shady characters.
With the coming to power of the Kayode Fayemi administration in October 2010, tourism development became a topmost priority of the state government as one of the 8-point agenda with which the governor entered into social contract with the electorate. It is the desire of the governor to make the state an “attractive destination for relaxation and holidays by building a heliport, world class hotel and accommodation facilities thus developing the Efon, Okemesi, Ikogosi, Ipole Iloro tourism corridor”.
In implementing his vision for the state in the area of tourism, the governor decided to start with Ikogosi Warm Spring and Resort, removing the potential money spinner from the claws of criminals and dangerous reptiles that had taken over the place.
Since the development of the tourist centre commenced, tourists have started trooping to the resort to have first hand contact with the mysterious warm spring. For instance between January and September 2011, over 18,438 tourists visited the warm spring.
The revival of tourists’ interest in the warm spring is fallout of the ongoing facelift of the facilities at the resort centre which is being carried out in phases.
The Special Adviser to the Governor on Tourism, Engr Segun Ologunleko who is saddled with the supervision of the project to fruition said the 1st phase of the rehabilitation of the resort tagged “Redevelopment and Reestablishment of Structures“was being carried out by Casa Nig. Ltd. and closely monitored by the State Tourism Board.
Ologunleko stressed that it is the desire of the governor to turn around the facilities at the resort and build it up to a five class hotel comparable to others in the developed world.
According to him, the state government, though interested in entering into partnership with willing investors, decided to begin the first phase of development on its own in order to properly showcase the enormous investment opportunity in the project before bringing in willing investors. Already some investors have indicated interest in going into partnership with the state government out of which the state government has shortlisted two.
Speaking on the first phase of the development of the warm spring, Ologunleko said it includes the erection of a modern gate at the entrance of the warm spring. It also includes the landscaping of the environment and rehabilitation of the road leading to the spring. Work in this regard is at advanced stage with the clearing of the road and the environment hitherto overgrown with weeds. Ologunleko however added that the landscaping would not affect the natural environment saying the reconstruction of the entrance is being done to give the impression to visitors that it is entering a unique tourist centre.
Also, ticketing building and a car park for tourists visiting the spring is under construction very close to the meeting point of the warm and cold water. From the car park, a wooden bridge is being constructed to link the park with the spring. Besides, the erection of car park and the ticketing gate was to ensure orderliness at the warm spring where swimming pool facilities for both the old and children are being constructed.
“The swimming pools, when completed, will be a far cry from the abandoned old one”, Ologunleko assured stressing that the attention being given to the facility will make visits of tourists memorable.
Apart from the swimming pool, the state government is constructing variety shops close to the pool. The variety shops will house a clinic, supermarkets and restaurants among others to ensure that tourists have access to medical facilities as well as memorable items they may want to acquire at the centre. Ologunleko also confirmed that an ambulance service will be provided at warm spring to cater for emergencies.
At the premises of the warm spring, some buildings were being redesigned as VIP suites and Executive VIP suites for those wishing to lodge in the environment of the warm spring. Some buildings were equally being erected for management staff of the State Bureau of Tourism Development.
Besides, the suites which are nearing completion, the state government is about erecting a sports centre to house tennis and other sports in the premises of the warm spring.
On the other side of the warm spring, a resort centre a total of 51 standard rooms were being developed for those wishing to lodge at the warm spring and resort centre. The buildings which had been in existence had their roofs replaced and the entire building redesigned to have aesthetic value added to them.
In addition to the 51 standard rooms, another 24 rooms were being constructed for school children who may want to visit the warm spring on excursion. In each of the 24 rooms were two bunk beds to accommodate four students.
Also being rehabilitated is the dining hall which was built by the missionary which established the resort. Ologunleko said the chapel built on the resort is being rehabilitated to continue to serve the purpose for which it was built.
On the 116 hectares of land acquired for the warm spring and resort centre is a new 300-seater conference centre for those who want to use the facilities for meetings and conferences. The Governor’s aide said it is the desire of the governor to attract corporate organization to hold their annual general meetings at the resort centre given the facelift being given to make it a world class facility.
Ologunleko also disclosed that an open theatre is being planned for the resort centre adding that the first phase of development if completed would rank the warm spring as one of the tourists attractions in the country.
Due to the international exposure given the warm spring in recent past, notable personalities within and outside the country have been visiting the resort centre. World Bank officials led by Ms Marie-Francoise Marie-Nelly recently commended the efforts of the Fayemi administration at developing tourism potentials in the state.
Pointing out the readiness of the World Bank to collaborate with the state government in the area of infrastructural development, the bank officials noted that the state government “working its talk” through the institutional frame work put in place to ensure good governance.
Ifedayo Sayo is Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Special Media
Last modified: April 11, 2012