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JOURNAL OF RESEARCH IN NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT VOLUME 8 NO 1, JUNE, 2010


INVENTORY OF TOURISM RESOURCES IN NASARAWA STATE NIGERIA

D. Y. Orga and G. Adah
Department of Tourism, The Federal Polytechnic,  Idah
E-mail: yinaorga@yahoo.com

Abstract

The study aim is to undertake inventories of tourism resources in Nasarawa State Nigeria and expose them to developers for development to generate social and economic benefits for local people. The methods used to generate information were fieldwork and Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) with members of the local communities where tourism resources are identified and who were expected to benefit from the resources. In Nasarawa State, they have some of the most beautiful sites and landscapes in Nigeria.  These include the beautiful hills, striking and unique natural lakes, fascinating Doma dam, the Farin Ruwa waterfalls, the Karofi Dyeing Centre, springs, rivers and wildlife. The people are hospitable and have a rich cultural and historic monument of sites, traditional villages, festivals/dances, arts and crafts. The development of these tourism resources will diversify the State’s economy and provide employment for the local people. It will also promote sustainable tourism industry in the State.

Keywords: Inventory, tourism, resources, Nasarawa state


Introduction
That tourism is a thriving industry worldwide is well established fact. As an industry, it is either the backbone or one of the top three fastest growing industries in countries like Kenya, Indonesia, the USA, Canada, France, the United Kingdom, Morocco, the Bahamas and Barbados (Olukesusi, 1989:1).  Of the 808 million international tourist arrivals in 2005, sub-Saharan African received 23.1 million and Nigeria less than one million (World Tourism Organisation, 2006:21).  The importance of tourism for economic development in any nation cannot be overemphasized. Archer (2004:162) stated that tourism has a variety of economic benefits.  Tourists contribute to sales, profits, jobs, tax revenues, and income in an area.  The most direct effects occur within the primary tourism sector; lodging, restaurants, transportation, amusements, and retail sales.  Though secondary effects, tourism affects most sectors of the economy. World Tourism Organisation (2004:10) tourism employs more women and young people than most other industries.  Providing economic benefits and independence to women is very important in terms of supporting child development and breaking the circle of poverty.   It creates opportunities for many small entrepreneurs and is an industry in which start-up costs and barriers to entry are generally low or can easily be lowered.  Tourism provides not only material benefits to the poor but also cultural pride, greater awareness of the natural environment and its economic values, a sense of ownership and reduced vulnerability through diversification of income sources.

Several efforts have been made to study tourism resources in Nigeria, (Olukesusi, 1989; Orga, 2005; Orga, 2006a, 2006b, Orga, 2008, Orga and Abdullahi, 2009; and Tijani, 2005a, 2005b).  Despite these efforts, tourism resources in many States in Nigeria including Nasarawa State are not fully understood especially their locations and potentials.  Given the nature of tourism resources; nature-based and cultural resources.  The study aim is to undertake inventories of tourism resources in the study area and expose them to developers for development to generate social and economic benefits for local people.

Study area
 Nasarawa State, one of the 36 States in Nigeria was created on 1st October, 1996 out of Plateau State.   It is located at the centre of the Middle Belt region on longitude 7°E – 9°E and latitude 8°N – 9°N.  The State shares common borders with the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja on the West, Kaduna State on the North, Plateau and Taraba States on the East, and Benue and Kogi States on the South.   Nasarawa State situates within the Benue and Plateau Highlands.  The backbone of the State’s economy is based primarily on cultivated agriculture and animal husbandry.

Data collection instruments
The inventories of the tourism resources in Nasarawa State were strongly influenced by an appreciation of the local content of the resources.  The methods used to generate information were fieldwork and Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) with members of the local communities where tourism resources are identified, and who were expected to benefit from the resources.  Thus, these two methods have done much to generate the required information on locations and potentials of tourism resources in the study area and involved local people.  These two methods were found to be suitable to undertaken inventories of tourism resources elsewhere, see Orga, 2005 and Orga, 2006a and 2006b.

 

Tourism resources in Nasarawa State, Nigeria
The State offers a wide variety of tourism resources such as rivers and lakes ideal for swimming and other water sports, unique wildlife, vast tracts of unspoiled nature ranging from magnificent waterfalls, landscape and hills. Other tourism resources include traditional ways of life preserved in local customs; rich and varied handicrafts and architectural monuments.  All these tourism resources can be loosely grouped into two; nature-based tourism resources and cultural tourism resources.

Nature-based tourism resources
Nasarawa State, they have some of most beautiful sites and landscapes in Nigeria.  These sites and landscapes relate to scenic beauty and environmental interesting areas that offer opportunities for trekking, mountain climbing and sightseeing. See Table I.


Table I: Nature-Based Tourism Resources in Nasarawa State Nigeria

Nature-Based Tourism Resources

Locations

Farin Ruwa Waterfalls

Wambai LGA

Hunki Lake

Awe town, Awe LGA

Akira Salt Village

Awe LGA

Akira Warm Spring

Awe LGA

Peperuwa Lake

Assaikio town, Lafia LGA

Oku-Akpa Rock

Nasarawa village, Nasarawa LGA

Ara Rock

Ara town, Nasarawa LGA

Numan Rocks/Hills

Andaka town, Akwanga LGA

            Source: Fieldwork, 2009.


Farin Ruwa Falls

Farin Ruwa Falls is found in Wambai Local Government Area (LGA) of the State.  It is located between the boundary of Bokkos and Wambai LGA of Plateau and Nasarawa States respectively.  The Farin Ruwa Falls is about 120km away from Lafia, the State Capital, and 30km away from Wambai, the Local Government (LG) Headquarters.  The nature and beauty of the falls is magnificent; its high level falls, is about 150m high and 50m wide. (Nasarawa State Nigeria, 2005:2).  The forces of its gushing water is so torrential that it could be mistaken for white smoke which earns it the name “Farin Ruwa” a literal translation of ‘white water’ in Hausa.  It has great potentials for recreational centre.

Hunki Lake
Hunki Lake is located 30km away from Awe town, Headquarter of Awe LGA and 130km from Lafia, the State Capital.  The Lake’s common wildlife is hippopotamus, manatees, fish, etc.  It has great potentials for a fishing festival.

Akira Salt Village
Akira Salt Village is in Awe LGA of the State.  The salt deposits are around the warm spring.  The Local Salt miners use the spring water for salt processing.

Akira Warm Spring
The Warm Spring is warm and becomes warmer during cool weather.  The Spring Water gushes out bubbles at regular intervals looking normal like water being boiled.  The water is believed to have some curative power; the people of Akira drink and bath for such purposes.   It is an ideal site for health tourism in the State.

 

Peperuwa Lake
Peperuwa Lake is an elongated natural lake situated at the North-West of Assaikio town in Lafia LGA of the State. It is about 50km away from the State Capital, Lafia, with 6km drive on Assaikio-Tunga-Nupawa road.  The Lake surface is estimated at over 7km length and 3.8km wide.  The lake is famous for water aquatics such as manatees, fish, hippopotamus, water ducks and geese (ibid: 3).  The Lake have significant potentials for swimming, sport fishing, picnicking, game viewing, camping, etc.

Oku-Akpa Rock
Oku-Akpa Rock formation is spectacular range of rocks formation formed along Nasarawa village-Udege-Loko road in Nasarawa LGA of the State.  The area will be suitable for picnicking, mountaineering, sport hunting, birds watching, etc., when the tourism resources is developed.  

Ara Rocks
Ara Rocks is located at Ara town, Nasarawa LGA of the State. It is found at about 12km away from Lafia.  The rocks measures about 50m above sea level.  The Ara rock, which stands magnificent as a tower facing the Ara town, is beautiful and fascinating in appearance.  This rock has the potentials to attract many visitors on a sightseeing visit to the Ara rock.

Numan Rocks/Hills
Numan rocks/hills are found at the outskirts of Andaka town and Akwanga-Fadan Karshi road in Akwanga LGA of the State.  The rocks/hills stand spectacular with striking peaks and sceneries.   From top of the hills, most part of the State and parts of the FCT, Abuja could be viewed.  The rocks/hills are good potential for mountaineering.

Cultural tourism resources
The Cultural Tourism Resources that has had tourism potentials are the traditional villages and historic monuments of the sites, festivals and dances. See Table II.


 

Table II: Cultural Tourism Resources in Nasarawa State Nigeria

Cultural Tourism Resources

Locations

Karofi Dyeing Centre

Lafia

Late Captain Moleney Tomb

Keffi, Keffi LGA

Umaisha River Bank

Umaisha, Toto LGA

Keana Salt Village

Keana, Keana LGA

Doma Dam

Doma, Doma LGA

The Eggon Hills/Caves

Nasarawa LGA

Odu Festivals

Obi LGA

Amiri Festival

Keana LGA

Sharo

Keffi LGA

Omadegye

Toto LGA

Awuma Festival

Lafia LGA

Oguh

Lafia LGA

Gbagyi Gbogun

Doma LGA

Oyerere

Lafia LGA

            Source: Fieldwork, 2009.


Karofi Dyeing Centre
The Karofi Dyeing Centre is located near the Kofar Fada at the Emir’s Palace, Lafia.  At the dye pits, traditional clothes are woven and dyed in various sizes and designs.  The dye pits are as old as the Lafia town.  Orga (2008:20) findings indicated that the Karofi Dyeing Centre is already attracting tourists/visitors and could be developed as a sustainable visitor’s attraction.

Late Captain Maloney Tomb
Late Captain Moloney tomb is situated on a hill near Keffi.   Late Captain Moloney, a colonialist was a victim of resistance against colonial rule by the Keffi emirate.  This was the views of the Keffi local people.

Umaisha River Bank
Umaisha is a town situated at the eastern part and 40 km away from Toto LGA Headquarters and 85km from FCT, Abuja.  The town is old settlement since the 14th century and its habitants are the Igbiras, which are referred to here, as the Openda Kingdom.  The Umaishas have potentials for fishing and cultural festivals.

Keana Salt Village
Keana Salt Village is located in Keana, the Headquarters of the Keana LGA. It is 67 km away from Lafia.  The Keana salt mining industry dates back to the 12th century when the salt discovery attracted human settlement in the area.  A visit to the site shows that the industry is made of huts with large pots and ridges laid out for mining of salt. Each of these huts belongs to an individual whose acquisition or ownership is by heritage.

Doma Dam
Doma dam is situated 6 km from Doma town, the Headquarters of Doma LGA. It is about 20 km away from Lafia. Doma dam is man-made dam for agricultural irrigation.  The Dam is structured into 3 arms with each arm measuring over 2 km length and about 3 km wide.  Doma dam will be a suitable site for picnicking, boating, swimming, etc.

The Eggon Hills/Caves
The Eggon hills/caves are found in Nasarawa Eggon LGA. They   are range of hills over 300m at same peaks.  They have the characteristics of kopjes and inselbergns.  Apart from the striking beautiful scenery they offer, they also have natural features and wildlife for tourists.

Festivals/Dances
Nasarawa State people are endowed with enormous cultural festivals.   Among these festivals are Odu, Amiri, Sharo (Fulani), Omadegye annual festival, Awuma dance, Oguh dance, Gbagyi Gbogum, Oyarere, etc.

Odu Festival
The Odu festival is celebrated by the Migili speaking people in Obi LGA in the mouth of March.  The festival is to appease the gods and purify the living as well as celebrate victories at special occasions.  The festival is great touristic potentials.

Amiri Festival
Amiri festival is celebrated by the Alago tribe in Keana LGA of the State in November.  The festival is celebrated to give thanksgiving to the gods for good harvests and long life.  It is also a period for clearance of the ancestral graves. It also serves as a forum for uniting the Alagos.

Sharo (Fulani)
It is a Fulani festival in Keffi LGA every season and after Ramadan (Sallah).  It is both ritual and social usually performed mostly by young bachelors to test their strength (powers) and also to impress and win maidens for courtship and marriage.  It is an important tourism potential in the Local Government Area.

Omadegye Annual Festival
It is celebrated by Mbeki-Agwada community in Toto LGA in the month of March.  The festival is a ritual festival to unite all sons and daughters of Afo and revive the past cultural values of Afo people.

Awuma Dance Festival
Awuma dance festival is celebrated by the Rindre people in Lafia-North LGA in March/April.  It is a dance festival. It promotes unity among the Rindre people and also serves as a forum for the appreciation of cultural value of the tribe.

Oguh Dance Festival
The festival is celebrated in Lafia-East LGA in January.  It is a period for reflection and appreciation of ancestors who were heroes. It is a period too for thanking the gods for good harvest.

Gbagyi Gbogun Cultural Festival
Celebrated in Gbagyi village in Godabuke community in Doma LGA in April to preserve the culture of the Gbagyi people and foster unity among the tribe.

Oyarere Festival
An annual festival celebrated in Assaikio community in Lafia-North LGA in December.   Annual festival celebrated when the moon is sighted. It also marks the movement of the Alago people in Assaikio to the present site in Keana.

Conclusion
In Nasarawa State, they have some of most beautiful sites and landscapes in Nigeria.  These include the beautiful hills, striking and unique natural lakes, well-built and fascinating Doma dam, the magnificent Farin Ruwa waterfalls, springs, rivers and wildlife.  The people are hospitable and have rich cultural/historic monuments of site, traditional villages, festivals/dances, arts and crafts.  All these resources constituted the State endowed abundant nature-based and cultural tourism resources with significant tourism potentials for social and economic benefits for the local people in the State.  However, the development of these nature-based and cultural tourism resources will diversify the State’s economy and will provide the needed income and employment for the local people, and earn the State and Nation the much needed foreign exchange.  It will also promote sustainable tourism industry in the State. 

References

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World Tourism Organisation (2004). Tourism and Poverty Alleviation: Recommendation for Actions. Madrid: World Tourism Organization.

World Tourism Organisation (2006). Sustainable Tourism Development for Africa. Madrid: World Tourism Organization.