The 2017 World Tourism Day was celebrated globally on the 27th of September. The World Tourism Day has been celebrated since 1980 on September 27, the day in which the Statutes of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) entered into force.
The theme “Sustainable Tourism; a tool for development” was apt as the day was dedicated to exploring the contribution of tourism to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and seeking ways that can enable tourism to contribute to make this world a better place.
Cross River State is one of the leading tourism destinations in Nigeria and has potentials for several exciting tourism products and services. Cultural Tourism is one of such strategic products which the state has on offer which must be maximized in promoting sustainable tourism as a tool for development.
Cross River State is rich in Culture and Creativity. The state has numerous traditions, cuisines, fashions, dances and languages that make excellent destinations for inquisitive tourists. From the hills of Obanlikwu to the creeks of Bakassi, the state is culturally diverse with exciting ways of life that must be celebrated.
Culture is defined as the sum of attitudes, customs, and beliefs that distinguishes one group of people from another. Cultural Tourism on the other hand as defined by Wikipedia is the subset of tourism concerned with a traveler’s engagement with a country or region’s culture, specifically the lifestyle of the people in those geographical areas, the history of those people, their art, architecture, religion(s), and other elements that helped shape their way of life.
Cross River State has a rich cultural heritage that enriches the tourism industry in the state. Succeeding administrations in the state have not been able to fully maximize this opportunity for the promotion of sustainable tourism as a tool for development.
This is one reason why the decision of the Ayade Administration to institute a cultural festival in each of three Senatorial Districts is a welcome development. The Cultural Festivals will not only serve as tourism products in the state but will also help showcase and sustain our rich cultural heritage and create wealth for our people.
The Cultural Festivals are well planned, the contents are rich and reflect our true cultural diversity and will be given wide publicity to attract culture loving tourist globally to the state. Cross River State is renowned for its hospitality so there is no doubt that visiting tourists will receive the best of care and hospitality.
Beyond the cultural festival, the state must seek ways to promote it’s creative and cultural endowments including arts and crafts, historical sites, museums and many more. Creative and Cultural industries have been optimally and gainfully harnessed by many countries of the world, especially in Europe, America and Asia to uplift their economic development.
Cultural industry is people-oriented, as it includes the making of handicrafts by the rural dwellers. Cross River State is thus poised to harness her cultural resources and revitalise them for the promotion of sustainable tourism going forward. If the state’s vast culture heritage are harnessed and effectively managed, they can become the driver of our state economic development and leading tourism product.
To demonstrate it’s commitment to the promotion of sustainable tourism in Cross River State, the governor, Sen. Prof. Ben Ayade created the Ministry of Culture and Tourism Development with himself as the premier commissioner.
Recently however, he appointed Mr. Eric Anderson as commissioner.
The Ministry of Culture and Tourism in line with its mandate is working hard to map the cultural assets of the state and help the reposition Cultural Tourism in the state for the promotion of sustainable tourism.
Every community must appreciate it’s creative and cultural endowments and cooperate with government to promote these cultural assets for their benefit and the benefit of the state.
All stakeholders in the creative and cultural industry must have their hands on the deck to ensure the the cultural Tourism sub sector blossoms and attracts tourists from all over the state.
Emmanuel Etim is SSA to Governor of Cross River State Sen. Ben Ayade on Creative and Knowledge Economy
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