The Director General, Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Folorunsho Cooker, has expressed concern on the dwindling tourism sector in Cross River State.
Coker raised the concern at the opening of the Food Fashion and Art Exhibition entitled, “Tour Nigeria”, organised by NTDC in collaboration with the Cross River Tourism Bureau, at the Marina Resort, Calabar on Wednesday.
“Cross River’s hospitality was second to none in Nigeria but suddenly in the last few years this industry has noticed a turn of event that has slowed it down. Tourism cannot and should not fail in Calabar.
He said some people have blamed the downturn on the End SARS Protest, while others blame it on the economy but the spirit of the people have remained and NTDC was trying to revive it using the Tour Nigeria project.
“Cross River has always been the cradle of tourism in Nigeria but the last three times I visited, I did not feel that fire, all of a sudden, tourism in the state took a slow turn.
“Calabar cannot fail in tourism and the entertainment industry but it is up to the residents to galvanise themselves to support and grow it.
“If you continue to wait for government to come and do something such as this for you, it would take a long time because government has too many responsibilities.
“I am going to commit myself further, every year, we would do something incrementally bigger in Cross River, especially in Calabar, especially at this Marina and especially at the island across to boost tourism”, he said.
He appealed to residents of the state to use their phones to transfer positive images of Cross River, adding that it is one of the ways the negative composition the nation is suffering from could be reversed.
In his remarks, Utsu Atsu, Managing Director, Cross River Tourism Bureau said launching the tour Nigeria project in Calabar would improve the tourism asset of the state.
He said one of the things the bureau has been trying to do since 2021 was to diversify the tourism potentials of the state while concentrating on ecotourism.
“What NTDC has done here today has helped our tourism space; it has also improved the standard and efficiency of local businessmen and entrepreneurs at the Marina Resort.
“This will drive disposable income, allow the people to earn more and take care of their families, generally making the state better.
“If we can replicate this across the state at different levels we would be doing quite a lot”, he maintained.
He said they were poised to sustain the revival of tourism in the state by properly organising themselves to get the required fund from the Cross River Micro Finance Bank.