By Vanessa Obioha
Since Gulder Ultimate Search made its debut in 2004, it has earned a reputation for showcasing the country’s tourist destinations. From the known to the unknown, it serves as a major tourism compass for viewers.
Throughout the 11 consecutive seasons of the foremost television reality show by Nigerian Breweries Plc, viewers were kept spellbound not only by the intrigue and drama of the survival games but for the tourism attractions. For instance, in 2004, it chose Snake Island, Lagos as its location. Not a few thought that the destination was probably a hub for the carnivorous reptiles, but the area was however christened Snake Island because of its snake-like topography.
In 2005, GUS took viewers to the hills of Obudu in Cross River State. Obudu was hitherto famous for cattle rearing and was so named- Obudu Cattle Ranch Resort but the reality TV show also enlightened viewers on the seasonal changes of the settlement which sits atop a steep mountain located six hours away from Calabar, the state capital.
Still discovering Nigeria, the GUS train in 2006 and 2007 moved to the jungles of the Nigerian Institute for Oil Palm Research (NIFOR) in Edo State and Shere Hills in Plateau State respectively. By 2008, the search was taken to Awgu Hills in Enugu state where another success was recorded. Nigeria and indeed the world was exposed to Omodo Forest, Aagba in Osun State, when the 6th edition of Gulder Ultimate Search was held in 2009. The forest exploration continued in 2010 when the show was taken to Omo Forest, J4, in Ogun State. GUS journeyed back to Edo in 2011. This time to Kukuruku Hills, Egbetua Quarters, Ososo for the 8th Season. Usaka Jungle in Obot Akara, Akwa Ibom State was literally rediscovered when the GUS was held there in 2012 and 2013.
The series was suspended after it took TV viewers on another journey of discovery to Aguleri Forest and its surrounding tributaries.
Again, this year, without officially giving away the location, perhaps because of challenging security reasons, discerning TV viewers have traced the location to Epe, on the outskirts of Lagos given the second episode of the show which revealed some landmarks in the city in addition to the end credits which pays tribute to the vigilante association of Nigeria, Epe division.
GUS contribution to the promotion of tourism in the country is indubitable. And as the race to the age of craftsmanship continues, one can only expect more explorations of the country’s tourism potential attractions.
By Vanessa Obioha