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New helmsmen predict brighter prospects for Cross River tourism    

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Ben Ayade

Ben Ayade

The two top executives of Cross River State’s long moribund Tourism Bureau, who were appointed earlier this week, have vowed to breathe new life into the agency and recapture its former glory.
    
In separate telephone interviews, the officers, whose tenures commenced on November 1, 2016, outlined strategies for getting Cross River back on course, to become one of the world’s great tourism destinations.
    
Speaking to The Guardian from Calabar, the in-coming managing director, Clement Umina, said the Bureau’s priority would be to sharpen its focus and build on the assets the state is famous for.
 
   
“We want to retain the comparative advantage in tourism development, which Cross River State is known to have,” he declared. “But for some time now, we’ve been on the verge of losing this.”
   
On his part, the chairman of the Board of Directors, listed the seven policy domains to include: “Products”; “Markets”; “Service”; “Intelligence”; “Partnership’; “Sustainability”; and “Community Participation”.  
    
Professor Bassey B. Esu, Associate Professor of Tourism Marketing at the University of Calabar and Professor of Marketing at Karitas University, Abuja; described the priorities as “crucial”.
     
“Our initial emphasis will be on the development of superior products and cultivating the widest possible market for them,” he stressed, adding that “the achievement of these objectives require the delivery of highly satisfactory service, plus knowledge of every aspect of the industry, including the tourists themselves.”

Acquisition of the needed intelligence, he noted, would result in a comprehensive databank, built up through an intensive and sustained programme of research.

Esu, who is a former general manager (Research and Planning) said the Cross River State Tourism Bureau (C.R.S.T.B.) was not an island unto itself, pointing out that “We cannot do anything, working alone. We operate in a market economy, where there are diverse interests, such as hotels, tourism marketers, restaurants, and other government agencies.
     
“So partnership is very important,” he continued, “as is community participation. After all, our tourism assets are found mainly in local communities, which have to be involved and carried along”. …Readers should read up remainder of the story online at guardian.ng
     
Esu noted finally, that C.R.S.T.B. would always formulate sustainable policies with an eye on the future, “to secure for unborn generations, the abundant forest resources nature has bequeathed”.  
    
Governor Ben Ayade’s appointment of a chairman and members, Monday, reportedly marked the end of an eight year hiatus, during which the Tourism Bureau operated without a Board of Directors.
    
“The last time we had a board,” recalled Umina, “was under Governor Donald Duke, who created it. Throughout the tenure of Lyle Imoke, there was no Board”.
    
He noted further, that this had affected the independence of the Tourism Bureau, because management needed to get approval, for every policy decision, straight from the Governor.
    
But with the restitution of the Board of Directors, Umina observed, the Bureau, once again, has a degree of autonomy—which the Management Committee would like to extend and secure.
    
Umina, who heads the Committee, said it hopes, eventually, to generate sufficient revenue to pay salaries and do the Bureau’s work, without relying on government subventions.

    
Meanwhile, as managing director, the former general manager, Operations, said he would not play a very active role in the day-to-day running of the Bureau.
     
It would be the task of a field operations officer, to coordinate the activities of department heads. Instead, his primary function would be to liaise with national and international industry players.
      
“First and foremost,” he declared, “I want to restore the partnership we had, at one time, with the Federal Ministry of Tourism”.Another arena, in which he plans to be very active, is the “huge global interest in climate change” —promoting Cross River’s ecotourism potential, to win United Nations support and attract donors.
 


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Ben Ayade

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