The Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to Bayelsa State Governor on Tourism, Dr. Piriye Kiyaramo has described the signing of the $15 billion Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Board and Atlanta Global Resources Inc, in the United States of America, as step in the right direction which will boost domestic tourism.
Dr. Kiyaramo who is coordinator of the South South Tourism Roundtable Steering Committee stated this while speaking with newsmen in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State capital on Wednesday, noting that the regional railway will not only connect the south-south states, but that the mega rail line will equally boost social tourism, being a sought-after part of railway tourism.
According to the South-South Roundtable Steering Committee coordinator, regional economic cooperation and integration efforts of the new NDDC board would enable the states to coordinate resources, collaborate, invest and strengthen their economies, with a view to mitigating shared risks to avoid possible conflicts, and to preserve common resources.
He noted that the development of railway tourism, which is basically an organized tourism by rail, backed up with appropriate transport infrastructure and specialized management structure, will foster tourism business at various levels in the oil producing states, informing that railway trips and routes are in high demand among different target groups of consumers, such as schools, corporate groups and tourists who are interested in unusual places.
While lamenting that no serious attention has been paid to social tourism, being the organization of tourism services for economically weak or people in difficult life circumstances, the governor’s aide pointed out that
social tourism, being an essential component of access tourism, is very promising locally and internationally.
He furrher reiterated that regional integration helps countries or states to overcome their divisions that would otherwise impede the flow of goods, services, capital, people and ideas, acknowledging that the proposed Niger Delta Mega railway project which includes providing locomotives, construction of railway lines that will connect the nine oil producing states of Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo Imo and Ondo states will boost domestic tourism as well as promote the rich cultural heritage of the Niger Delta people.
“Transportation is the main means to convey passengers, including the tourists to the actual site where tourism services are performed.
“Therefore the development of a world-class transportation system, including provision of vehicles, infrastructure and rhe use of new technologies in this sector will speed up tourism development in the Niger Delta geopolitical region.
He commended the Managing Director/CEO of the new NDDC board, Dr. Samuel Ogbuku for taking proactive steps to change the earlier narrative of the Commission by initiating such a gigantic social infrastructure project that would possibly transform the Niger Delta region into a competitive economic and ecologically dependable area.
Also speaking, Chairman of Akwa Ibom State Tourism and Hospitality Practitioners Association (AKTHOPA) and Pioneer Chairman, Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN) in Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Usen Udoh expressed confidence that the incoming golden administration of Pastor Umo Bassey Eno of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has the political will to develop Akwa Ibom State as a regional melting point of tourism and hospitality.
According to Mr. Udoh, who is also the Managing Director of Legacy Tourism Development Services Limited Uyo, Akwa Ibom State has already positioned itself to serve as south-south regional hub of tourism through the development of strategic tourism infrastructures, ranging from good road network, aviation, parks and gardens, streets lawns, green spaces dotted around the Uyo metropolis and environs.
“We have the basic infrastructures for tourism to thrive in Akwa Ibom State, which includes ancillary and complementary facilities such as world class medical facilities, library, industrial estates, equipment, systems, and the resources necessary for the functioning of a tourist destination. This primarily includes roads, airport, and the like, which make a tourist destination accessible for tourists”, Udoh maintained.
Recall that Atlanta Global Resources Inc, the partnering firm with the NDDC is to provide funds for the commission to construct, operate and also manage the rail line.
Managing Director/CEO of the NDDC, Dr. Samuel Ogbuku signed on behalf of the Commission, Mr. Chamberlain Eke, signed on behalf of the United States Consulate, while Mr. Tony Akpele, signed on behalf of United States-based firm Atlanta Global Resources Inc., AGR.