As Cross River State joins the global community to mark the 2023 World Tourism Day with the theme, “Tourism and Green investments,” the state Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Hon Abubakar Ewa, says in less than four months of the present administration, much has been achieved in the sector.
Speaking at the event held at the main bowl of the Cultural Centre, Calabar, Wednesday (Sept. 27), Ewa assured that the government will continue to make the state conducive as well as create an enabling environment for tourists to come and explore.
“The present administration in its season of sweetness is tourism friendly, we will do our best to beat the standards in the values of the World Tourism Organisation,” the Commissioner assured.
According to him, about 250 ad hoc staff of the Obudu Ranch Resort have been absorbed into service and their arrears of salaries cleared.
He remarked that “Others who had in the past 15 to 20 years served as artistes in the Department of Culture & Heritage have also been moved into the civil service.”
He also assured of adequate partnership with relevant security agencies in the state to maintain a crime-free state.
Giving a background of the event, the Commissioner explained that World Tourism Day is celebrated annually on September 27, to encourage people world over to explore the beauty and diversity of the planet while encouraging the responsibilities that come with it.
In his goodwill message, the Managing Director, Cross River State Tourism Bureau, Mr Ojoi Ekpenyong, announced to the gathering that the State Government has approved a support grant of N1m each to selected 10 hotels as part of deliberate efforts to revitalise the tourism sector in the state.
Ekpenyong called on other relevant stakeholders to join forces with the government in reinventing and re-energising the sector in a sustainable manner that would create vistas of employment opportunities while generating more revenue for the state.
In a keynote address, a University Don, Prof. Bassey Esu, described the theme as apt, urging tourism practitioners to always promote eco-friendly practices.
He argued that such practices for individuals, the environment and society at large are achievable through adherence to international best standards in the sector.
He advocated for green tourism as a key earner of the gains associated with tourism, maintaining that such an embrace would also transform the living standards of ordinary Nigerians.
Urging the government to formulate better policies for the sector in line with the Millennium Development Goals, Esu also called on tourism practitioners to scale up their requisite skills for good prospects.
In his presentation on the Cross River State Tourism and way forward on Green Investment, Chairman, Carnival Commission, Sir Gabe Onah, noted that a key component to tourism development in any country is adhering to responsible and sustainable tourism practices.
Onah who noted that Cross River is on trial to build the tourism face of Nigeria avered that the only way tourism will thrive is when private sectors begin to play active roles in the development of the sector and the government play its role as policy driver.
Responding to the Governor’s gesture of support to 10 hoteliers in the state, State Coordinator of the Federation of Tourism Association of Nigeria (FTAN), Mr Charles Ogar, thanked the Governor for the magnanimity, promising to judiciously put the grant to use.
He further appealed to the government for the creation of access roads, water and air transports to take tourists to the various tourist sites in the state.
The event featured a drama sketch by the State Cultural troupe titled, “Green for better life,” as well as a panel discussion by stakeholders in the tourism industry.