Ecotourism resources of University of Uyo, Nigeria: The arboretum and ravine destinations in perspective
Ecotourism potentials of the University of Uyo Arboretum and Ravine were investigated to determine respondents’ awareness of the ecodestinations, willingness to visit the sites, perceptions of the sites as ecodestinations, and factors that can enhance visitation to the destinations. Data for the study were collected through a set of structured questionnaire and personal interviews. A total of 180 respondents were sampled. Data obtained were analyzed using descriptive statistics and Chi-square. Results showed that 81.6% and 85.5% of the respondents were aware of the Ravine and Arboretum respectively. Many respondents viewed the ravine as a wildlife habitat (41.1%) and a place for illicit meetings (26.1%). Only few respondents (7.7%) perceived the Ravine as a recreation centre. About 38.3% of the respondents regarded the Arboretum as a recreation centre while 51.5% viewed it as an educational facility. Though most respondents (67.2%) have visited the Ravine for different reasons greater percentage (75.0%) of both the males and females interviewed were neither willing to repeat visit nor encourage relations to visit the site. In the case of the Arboretum, 75.0% of respondents have visited for study (36.6%), relaxation (13.3%) and site seeing (10.0%). More respondents (47.7%) are willing to visit the Arboretum than the Ravine. Chi square analyses to test for association between respondents perception of ecodestinations and gender were not significant (p>0.05) for both destinations. Tree canopies and topography of the Ravine (41.1%; 31.1%) and Arboretum (58.3%; 32.7%) were rated major attractions in the destinations. Among the species that formed the canopies for the Ravine are Bambusa vulgaris, Cassia seamia, Elaeis guineensis and Melicia excelsa while Gmelina arborea, Nauclea diderichii and Cassia seamea are the dominant species in the Arboretum. Both the Ravine and Arboretum have potentials for ecotourism but are not managed to attract tourists.
Key Words: Biodiversity utilisation, Ecotourism destination, Arboretum, Ravine, University of Uyo, Recreation