Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu says his government plans replicating La Campagne Tropicana Beach Resort in Ikegun, Ibeju Lekki council area of Lagos, owned by Otunba Wanle Akinboboye, in Ondo State. Akeredolu said this during his official visit to the resort.
The governor expressed satisfaction with what he saw at the beach resort, and commended the management for making the resort a blend of African hospitality and Euro – centric opulence.
Before the meeting with the management of La Campagne Resort, the Ondo State Governor was taken on a tour of the resort.
The business meeting was a follow up to the one earlier held in Akure, Ondo State with Akinboboye, where the governor formally entered into agreement with Akinboboye as a strategic partner in his quest to transform Ondo State to a tourist destination.
During the La Campagne meeting, Akeredolu put in perspective his desire to put Ondo tourism on the world tourism map working with Akinboboye to achieve the dream.
According to him, it all started long before he became governor when he first heard a private talk with Akinboboye on the possibility of replicating La Campagne brand in the state but that dream was short lived somehow.
Going down memory lane, Akeredolu revealed that: ‘‘in the last four years that I have been in Ondo State, I have been concerned about the development of tourism and we made serious efforts. Akinboboye, my brother here, is from Ondo State and he made reference to our meeting some years ago.
‘‘It was then that I invited him and said let’s discuss, I want to see how I can have La Campagne brand in Ondo State. I am sure that both of us got busy and that idea didn’t materialised.
‘‘But when he was back to have Destination Ondo and came up with the Asun Carnival in Ondo, I got a message across to him that when he is finished with it that I would like to have a meeting with him.
‘‘I was happy he came and we met. And in a couple of hours when I was discussing with him, it was clear to me what we needed to do and what we needed to do is to really develop our tourism. Therefore, what we are set for is that we want to really change Ondo State face and we want tourism to be one of the key Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) industries in the state. ‘‘Yes, we have had 241 or so and so field, all the while not a single drop of oil has come out from there. It has existed since Aderanti time.’’
With huge investment made so far on the oil fields without any return, the governor has seen the need to seek for another viable revenue earner for the state. In this quest, he has set his sight on tourism. It is instructive to note that the choice of Akinboboye as strategic partner was an easier and natural one.
Akeredolu said he would want the central theme of his tourism economy to be that of Nigerian culture hence the choice of Akinboboye. He said: “We have lost so many things but the time is here now to have that rebirth and recreate and at least, the concept he has, in which everything is weaved around African culture.
‘‘What we have to export is our culture and we stand better rather than to have a foreign culture and he has always used that word, ‘an inferior,’ and imitation of foreign culture. Nobody is coming to patronise you. So, we need to have our culture, so that we can be patronised. So that is clear to all of us.’’
He outlined a number of frontline projects that would be of immediate concern and top on the list is the transformation of Araromi beachside, which he wants to be a top rated tourist destination by perhaps building a replica of the La Campagne Tropicana brand or some sort of tourism enclave that would offer haven for relaxation to the people.
In this wise, he dreams the construction of Araromi bridge link to bridge the gap and allow people to have a boat cruise from La Campagne to Araromi, which is estimated at 30 minutes cruise on the Ocean.
‘‘In about six months we should be able to transform Araromi beachside and everybody will start working there and within that six months or immediately thereafter, we also have to go back to Idanre Hills.’’
Next is Idanre Hills and Mare Festival, and given that Akinboboye has once worked on it as one of his signature projects during his stint with the state government, Akeredolu sees it as a quick fix, as he paid tribute to Akinboboye for leaving his footprints there.
Mare Festival is another quick fix for the governor, which he wants re-energised alongside Idanre Hills. ‘‘What I will call his footprints remain on Idanre Hills today because he built a number of the huts there and he started Mare Festival before it was hijacked from him and he has to leave it.
‘‘So, we still have Mare Festival and we still have to develop Idanre Hills too, it is one of the most beautiful parts of this country and the golf course there too. We would look at it.’’