Nigeria’s Bayelsa State revamps tourism sector to boost revenues
The Commissioner for Culture and Tourism of Nigeria’s Bayelsa State, Dr. Iti Orugbani, has asserted that tourism can boost the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the State as well as create job opportunities, and has the potential to be one of the key pillars on which the economic revival of the state can be anchored on.
Declaring that Government is ready to revamp infrastructure in the tourism sub sector across the state and restore moribund hospitality facilities through the implementation of a strategic tourism development plan that will rejuvenate cultural heritage, arts and tourism in the state to enable the sector reach its full potential and play a significant role in the socio-cultural and economic development plan of the state.
Dr Orugbani, making the disclosure in Yenagoa on Monday during a familiarization visit and tour of agencies and facilities under the ministry, said Government is prepared to reposition the sector by supporting and making the appropriate strategic involvements to achieve expected results and bring national and international tourists to the state.
He said the Tourism industry is capable of totally changing the image and perception of Bayelsa State from a state perceived to be unsafe, hostile and dependent to an exceptionally safe, peaceful and prosperous destination. Noting that the tourism sector is on a rising trajectory and prospects for more growth in the future are very positive, as such, the ministry is exploring strategies to grow the sector to its full potentials to complement other revenue sources of the state.
The Tourism Commissioner announced that moving forward, Government will with every sense of responsibility, protect cultural heritage resources, hospitality facilities, promote the arts and the creative industry, support/ participate in community cultural projects and engagements, promote cultural festivals and events across the state. Stressing that the ministry will seek out public-private sector collaboration and partnership to fast-track development of the industry.
Speaking after inspecting the two Star Hotel, at Swali, Dr Orugbani expressed shock at the monumental waste. Describing the burglary, stealing and vandalism of the construction materials, essential equipment, fittings and fixtures as a great loss to the state owing to the huge amount spent on procuring and shipping the equipment. He called for a thorough investigation with a view to bringing the perpetrators to book.
He however said the prosperity administration is forward looking, hence, Government will explore ways of completing the project, while assuring that appropriate security measures will be put in place to man the area to forestall further theft at the site.
The commissioner pointed out that Government will improve the infrastructure at the oxbow lake, complete the construction of the Oxbow lake water park for children, and encourage private sector participation in the development of all recreation centers in the state.
He said the prosperity Government is committed to providing and giving the needed support to the International Institute of Hospitality, the State Council for arts and Culture to function and perform optimally, adding that the peacepark will be remodeled to accommodate the new plans for the facility.
Highlighting some rich cultural heritage and tourism destinations the state is endowed with, the Commissioner maintained that Bayelsa possesses great potentials of being a tourism hub of the country.
Thrilled with the dance performance by the state cultural troupe staged in his honor, Dr Iti expressed his commitment to their welfare even as he reassured of addressing the challenges, concerns and demands presented.
He lamented the current state of Creek Motel, a state-owned hotel now in ruins and a shadow of itself, asserting that the ministry is interested and ready to put in effort to get the facility back on track.
The agencies and facilities visited are; Council of Arts and Culture, Creek Motel, Oxbow Lake, International Institute of Tourism and Hospitality, Two Star Hotel, State Heritage Monument and Museums, the Peace Park, among others.
The Commissioner was accompanied by the Permanent Secretaries, HoDs and Directors of both the Culture and Tourism arms of the Ministries and others. Also on his entourage were members of a group known as Grow Together For Douye Diri, Nembe.