Private Sector Participation Critical To Tourism Development—Imoke
Former Governor of Cross River State, Liyel Imoke has said that private sector participation is very critical to the growth of tourism in the country.
This is just as he attributed the success of Calabar Festival also to the contribution of the private sector
The former governor, who was telling the success story of the popular Calabar Festival in his presentation titled, “Blocks of Tourism Products”, at the Nigeria Association of Tour Operators (NATOP)2017 Annual General Meeting (AGM)in Lagos, pointed out that without the private sector it would be difficult for the Calabar Festival and any other festival in the country to succeed .
Imoke advised those who intend to organise festivals and promote tourism to allow the private sector to be the drive while the government should provide the enabling environment for the sector.
He added that to continuously organise the Calabar festival to the level it is today, the state government involved the private sector, Customs, Immigration and other stakeholders to make it a success
The former governor disclosed that Calabar Festival started with the vision of a group of young people before 1999, who wanted to make a difference in Cross River State tourism, adding that there was a vision, clear policy and that the Calabar people bought into them.
Imoke told the gathering, who listened with the rapt attention that the festival has grown to a level that no governor can change the vision, adding that it has also reached a stage that the character of the sitting governor cannot affect the carnival.
The former governor stated that for tourism to grow legislation was equally very important and the House of Assembly made legislation after which the state had to build institutions to develop tourism in the state.
Speaking further, he explained that after building the institutions, the state had to bring in experts to develop Cross River State tourism, adding that at that point, the state searched for human resources internally and externally.
On the challenges, he listed infrastructure, government interference, multiplicity of festivals as some of the challenges.
Imoke also disclosed that the state usually witness high Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) during the month of December and that the state also witness less crime during the period.