By Olajide Idowu
About 121,000 people visit the Osun-Osogbo Grove annually for the Osun festival, Mr Makinde Williams, the Deputy Director (Research), National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM), has said.
Mr Williams, who is also the Curator of Osun-Osogbo Grove, disclosed this on Thursday in Osogbo during an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria.
According to him, Nigerians and tourists from all over the world visit the groove during the annual festival in September.
The deputy director said the groove also hosted students, tourists, traditional worshippers and others, for excursion, site seeing and other businesses.
He said that 9,266 people visited the groove between January and December 2017, adding that the figure excluded those who visited the groove in September for the festival.
Giving a breakdown, Williams said out of the 2017 visitors, 537 were tourists who came from different parts of the world.
He said the Federal Government, through the NCMM, was generating revenue from the groove and also spending money to preserve its ancient structures.
“The Osun-Osogbo grove is 100 per cent funded by the Federal Government through the Ministry of Information, Arts and Culture and that is why it is in good shape.
“The Federal Government makes sure that the tourist site is well preserved and in return, the revenue generated from the groove is kept in the government’s account.
“The Osun State Government, however, undertakes reconstruction works and projects within the groove (as the host state), but does not directly fund the running of the groove.
“The state government, however, benefit from the tourist attraction of the site, especially during the Osun-Osogbo Festival, as the state hospitality sector experiences high patronage while the government collects tax,” he said.
Williams, however, said for sometime now, the management had been having challenges in running and maintaining the groove as the Federal Government had yet to release funds for logistic operations.
He said even though UNESCO was providing technical assistance and material support when requested, the Federal Government seriously needed to provide funds for logistics and staff operations.