by crossriverwatch admin
The Special Assistant to the Cross River State governor, Sen. Liyel Imoke, Mr. Wilfred Usani has said that the new tourism policy enacted by the state executive council aims to educate people who are not aware of their roles as well as benefits in the tourism industry in the state.
Speaking to our reporter at his Okoi Arikpo office in Calabar, Usani affirmed that the policy was drawn with the consent and contributions of the stakeholders in the tourism industry.
The SA on Tourism revealed that “Prior to now we never had any tourism policy and let me tell you because of that many stakeholders had different views as to what constitute tourism some believed it is developing and building hotels, some thought it’s about staging events which in reality has developed beyond that.
“Cross River is endowed with so many tourism assets which were ignored because many had not come to consciousness of their usefulness to tourism. When tourism was introduced in the Donald Duke’s administration, what you had seen is an exponential rise. People fail to understand that hospitality is an aspect of tourism and does not solely constitutes tourism. This divergence has been there and is natural where tourism development is immature”.
According to him “This policy articulates our tourism structure for development which is flexible to accommodate any ready player, the policy identifies the developmental goals, strategies and guidelines to deal with those areas, it defines how tourism will be in the state, how its products will be developed and maximally utilized. It outlines the strategies for development wether it will be private or public driven.
Some of the policy objectives are a. Economic – to make tourism a key catalyst in economic growth in the state creating wealth and the impetus for infrastructural development.
b. Social: to create awareness of tourism potentials among indigenes of the state and ensure participation of indigenes of the state in tourism in particular local communities, women and the youths.
c. Environmental: to utilize tourism as a means to ensure responsible and sustainable environmental practices.
d. Cultural: to use tourism to preserve and promote the cultural heritage of the state.
He added that “tourism is immature here people don’t know how to do tourism, there is a lack of human and institutional capacity, there is that lack of human capacity because of lack of knowledge about what is tourism but when you talk about one of the things that is recognized in this policy is the weakness of the institutions and the best example is a question you once asked me that who is really in charge of tourism in Cross River State, the reason you asked that question is because for a journalist who has been following the tourism trend in the state you’ll find out that there are lots of institutions that are supposed to be doing tourism but this one is doing this and the other doing that so you some times don’t understand what is going on. Is it governor’s office? is it tourism bureau? so people don’t understand what the department of tourism development do as in how it differs from tourism bureau, event management and carnival commission.”
He explained that the reason it has been so is because “there has been no document like a policy document which will state out all these institutions and clearly define their roles, because there is no place where you will go for these things to be explained to you, you’ll find out that the people in the institutions don’t know what their role is but the policy aims at addressing that role and define how the institutional frame work for the industry will be.
Elaborating further, he said: “Policy goal number one is to provide human and institutional capacity to manage the development of the tourism sector in a sustainable manner, number two is to diversify the tourism products to facilitate all year round visitor arrival to the state, three is to assure satisfactory visitor experience in the destination and engender revisits, four is to continually increase the number of visitors to the destination at a minimal average growth rate of 5%, five is to develop small and medium enterprises in the tourism sector to create wealth and generate employment opportunities for the citizens of the state, six is to utilize in a sustainable manner the natural environment and cultural heritage of the state for tourism development for the benefit for all and seven is to spread the benefits of tourism down to the local communities including disadvantaged groups such as women and youths and the last is to provide and manage the health safety and security issues that impact on tourism”.
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