Having the foresight of the possibility of Nigeria running into troubled waters as a result of its monolithic economy solely dependent on crude oil; on assumption of office in year 2009, we penciled down and gave a pride of place to Tourism in our administration’s 12-point programme encapsulated in an acronym “A CARING HEART’’.
We visualized a new Ondo State that would lead other states in Tourism Revolution with a view to diversifying the nation’s economy. Leveraging on the Cultural and largely untapped Tourism potential of the Sunshine State, our government put the Ministry of Culture and Tourism on a better stead to drive its vision for the state in that sector. The Ministry’s complex and secretariat were given facelift and equipped to enhance an inviting working environment while forty-seven artistes were employed to reinforce the staff strength for optimal performance. The attention given the Ministry started to yield positive result within a short period as the state for the first time came second at Abuja Carnival in year 2010 and came first in traditional dance in year 2011. The award-winning standing troupe was subsequently sponsored abroad to showcase the rich cultural Heritage of the state.
In the area of Tourism, the administration brought to life the hitherto sleeping town of Idanre with the annual celebration of Mare festival. On assumption of office, we initiated a world-class annual event christened MARE to attract the attention of the entire global community. At the foot of Idanre Hills, resorts with irresistible facilities for tourists and visitors were planted. They include artificial waterfall, campsites, restaurant and standard accommodation. The annual celebration has been sustained and has on record, participation by mountaineers from South Africa who also put interested local youths on professional trainings; professionals in Marathon race from across the country as well as artistes of International stature who join the local breeds to make government’s vision a reality. Still pursuing the goal of making Ondo State a tourist’s destination, the hitherto abandoned 18-holes golf course at Atosin-Idanre was revitalized and reactivated. The Golf course was revitalized to blend with the Medical Tourism Village in Ondo as well as the Dome in Akure.
The Medical Village is a healthcare haven which was conceived and delivered by our administration. The village hosts Medical Centres such as the Gani Fawehinmi Diagnostic Centre, the Mother and Child Hospital, the Kidney Care Centre and the Trauma Centre. The Medical Village which has transformed into the University of Medical Sciences is a tourist destination that has been viewed by many International visitors as one of the best Medical Tourist attractions in the world.
Perhaps, it is not out of place to note that all infrastructure put in place by our administration have an undertone of making Ondo State a huge tourism land. The Dome (International Event Centre) is a place to visit and a sight to behold for tourists while the Caring Heart Mega Primary Schools, the beautifully dualised roads and urban renewal projects all combine to promote the realization of the government’s vision at making Ondo State a tourist’s delight.