Efforts to reinvent tourism in Akwa Ibom state by the Governor Udom Emmanuel’s administration has continued to gain national appeal, with the state emerging the Top Tourist State in Nigeria recently.
The award which was conferred on the State at an event organised at the Abuja Jabamah, by the Wonders of Nigeria Expo last weekend, saw Akwa Ibom emerge winner among sister states which have as well invested in tourism in way back.
This can only mean that Governor Emmanuel’s interest in commercializing leisure is as deep as his interest in economising business relationships.
Just as his strong will and zeal led to the establishment of the nationally celebrated Ibom Airline, the 21 Storey Dakkada Towers, the Four Points by Sheraton Hotel, the restructuring of the Ibom Icon Hotels and others; the State has played host to major seminars and conferences across the nation,  courtesy of its serenity.
Even more, the institution of eventful places such as the Christmas village and other sociocultural places cum activities  periodically, attest to the restoration of peace and security on the State.
In view of this strategic positioning, the onus lies on the maintenance of the template created for sustainability.
It is no longer news that the strides in industrialization achieved by the current administration has caught the attention of onlookers, who now seek to learn from the banker turned politician governor of Akwa Ibom State.
According to the World Tourism Organization (WTO), sustainable tourism is that which takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment, and host communities”.
It is imperative now, more than ever to sensitize the citizenry of the benefits of sustainable tourism on the local economy, being a viable option for boosting the state’s internally generated revenue. It is also important to capitalize on the current standing of the state, to boost the impact on its populace, capitalizing on the compatible marriage between tourism, hospitality and entertainment.
Service providers and hospitality stakeholders are hereby adviced to offer premium services in a bid to remain the top choice for local tourists. These elements are actually the “driving force” of any tourist activity.
Put together, they make up what is called the environment of the destination; natural, economic, cultural, and social.
It should be noted that driving sustainable tourism rests on the shoulders of the locals; from the taxi driver at the airport, to the restaurateur, to natives at tourists sites spread across the state.
Recently, the editorial board of Business Day Newspaper visited the state to inspect projects executed by Governor Emmanuel. Such organisations would no doubt publicise their first hand experience of Akwa Ibom, but the essence will be defeated if visitors can’t boast of same.
The decoration given the state at Abuja Jabamah; a leading annual tourism expo aimed at promoting tourism and empowering traveling in Nigeria is not just another feather in the cap, but a pat on the back.
Receiving the award on behalf of the State Government, Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Mr Orman Esin thanked the organizers for the recognition, while dedicating the Award to the State Governor for his painstaking efforts towards the development of tourism in the State.
Hon. Esin restated the resolve of the Governor Emmanuel led administration to partner with relevant stakeholders to ensure robust developments in the Tourism sector, to attract more investments in the sector.
Like the saying which has it that to whom much is given, much is expected; the Ministry should not rest it oars; it should rather be inspired by the award to create more amazing tourism products and initiatives.
Notably, Akwa Ibom State also holds the record of the Cleanest State in Nigeria, courtesy the Prince Ikim led Akwa Ibom State Environmental Protection and Waste Management Agency (AKSEPWMA). As a plus to this, Akwa Ibom State Government says it will henceforth carry out  routine inspection of food and hospitality centers in the state to ascertain their hygienic condition.
Government has therefore mobilized and trained Environmental Health Officers to embark on routine visit to hospitality centres in the state.
The Commissioner for Environment, Sir Charles Udoh made the disclosure at the first- ever environmental health standards workshop organised by the Ministry of Environment in collaboration with the Nigerian Environmental Society, in Uyo recently.
The Commissioner said the state government will make the environment safe for all by kickstarting the process of ensuring that hotels and other hospitality outfits adhere strictly to high standards of hygiene.
On his part, the Chairman, Akwa Ibom State Hotels Management and Tourism Board, Mr. Ini Akpabio commended the state government and the Commissioner for Environment for organizing such an important and sensitive workshop.
He noted that in view of the danger posed to human health by unsafe food consumption, it was necessary for government and other critical stakeholders to meet with the food and hospitality operators towards charting a new course.
In the end, these leaves the people with no choice but to keep the feat up, especially as the end beneficiaries of these tourist activities and healthy living policies.
– Nelson writes from Uyo, Akwa Ibom State

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