Ecotourism Potential of Ebonyi State, Nigeria: Assessing Ecological Sites, Cultural Resources and Attitudes of Host-Communities (Published)
This study was undertaken to assess ecotourism potential of Ebonyi State, South East Nigeria. Twenty-four (24) ecological sites across the 3 ecological zones of the State and the local communities were purposively selected for the study. Twenty (20) community opinion leaders were purposively selected from each local community making 300 respondents. Focus Group Discussions were also held among various groups of adult males, females and youths. Primary data were collected by the use of interview schedule while secondary data were sourced from publications of the Federal Ministry of Culture and Tourism and Ebonyi State Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy. Data were analyzed by the use of descriptive and inferential statistics including mean scores from 4-point Likert-type scales and probit analysis. Result shows that ecological attractions in the State range from salt and fresh water lakes to beaches, waterfalls, hills, rock formations, caves and forests. There are also 20 identifiable fun-filled festivals celebrated all year round in the State. Furthermore, the socio-cultural environments of host communities were found to be supportive of ecotourism development and various host communities were willing to cooperate to develop ecotourism cluster. Governments at state and local levels are advised to ensure availability and functionality of socio-economic infrastructure in host communities. NGOs and Community Development Associations (CDAs) should strengthen advocacy to dismantle some cultural barriers that tend to exclude women from participation in some aspects of ecotourism development.