Akwa Ibom Is An Emerging Pleasure Tourism Destination

By Dr. Piriye Kiyaramo.

From the first day Akwa Ibom State Governor-elect, Pastor Umo Bassey Eno of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), introduced “Ibom Happy Hour”, a globally recognised domestic tourism marketing strategy for bars and restaurants, tongues have not stopped wagging in the Land of Promise.

“Happy hour” is the time to relieve stress, connect with friends, and unwind after a long day at work.
It is a marketing term for a time when a venue such as a restaurant or bar offers reduced prices on alcoholic drinks.

Discounted menu items like appetisers are often served during happy hour. This is a way for bars and restaurants to draw in more business before or after peak business hours.

Pastor Umo Bassey Eno, during a victory diner held at his campaign office in Uyo recently, had explained that: “Ibom Happy Hour”, is not for the lazy, but for the achievers and high flyers, having worked hard, create time to catch their fun after a busy day with friends.

“Happy hour” has been observed ever since, but it was restricted to the senior executives who find time to celebrate themselves. Akwa is right now polarised because of political differences and affiliations”, Pastor Umo Bassey Eno said.

However, some Akwa Ibomites, particularly the religious sects and moralists hold the view that the “happy hour” marketing initiative being introduced by the incoming administration under Pastor Umo Eno, tagged “Ibom Happy Hour” will encourage social vices and increase promiscuity, drunkenness and waywardness, thereby encouraging laziness and idleness among the youth.

But to the contrary, the Governor-elect, with deep interest in the tourism and hospitality sector, having grown his own hospitality business empire, “Royalty Hotels”, in Uyo, Eket, among other cities says, “Happy Hour”, is not for the lazy ones who have the habit of loitering around, expecting someone else to buy them drinks in the name of Happy hour”.

Scholars link the phrase, “happiness” to the renowned Ancient Greek philosopher and polymath, Aristotle, (384–322 BC), as one who first put the matter most forcefully, and expounded it at length in the Nicomachean Ethics, describing happiness as an “activity of the soul that expresses virtue.”

For Aristotle, all things in the universe have a purpose, a function, an end (telos). “To top it off, Authentic Happiness further allows for the “Full Life,” a life that satisfies all three criteria of happiness, (Hedonism, Desire and Objective List’s Sense theories)

Hedonism in all its variants holds that happiness is a matter of raw subjective feeling, maintaining that a happy life maximises feelings of pleasure and minimises pain.

According to Currie (1997), “tourism” means pleasure travel, and according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO (2007), pleasure represents the main purpose of tourism.

“Pleasure is defined as a feeling of happiness, satisfaction, or enjoyment. Therefore, the pursuit of such feelings through travel is referred to as “Pleasure Tourism”.

Researchers agree that authentic happiness synthesises all three traditions of the “Pleasant Life”, which is about happiness in the hedonist’s sense. The “Good Life”, is about happiness in the “Desire’s Sense”, and the “Meaningful Life”, is about happiness in “Objective List’s Sense” theory of pleasure.

While previous classifications do not distinguish between pleasure and non-pleasure tourism, the UNWTO (2007) classifies tourism into two broad categories: personal and business/professional purposes.

The former can be broken down into subcategories such as holidays, leisure, and recreation; visiting friends and relatives; education and training; health and medical care; religion and pilgrimages; shopping; and other pursuits.

The name, “Ikwa Ibom”, is said be derived from “Ibom”. Some locals say “Ikwa Ibom”, is a community in Nigeria that later became a political state in Nigeria. “Ibom” is an old word used by the Efik, Ibibio, Annang, Oron and Eket people of Nigeria, meaning the universe, the earth, or a community.

In the “Objective List’s Sense Theory”, pleasure holds that happiness consists of a human life that achieves certain things from a list of worthwhile pursuits, including, career accomplishments, friendship, freedom from disease and pain, material comforts, civic spirit, beauty, education, love, knowledge, and good conscience.

In his opinion, the amiable clergy and governor-elect of Akwa Ibom State, fondly referred to as the “Golden Boy” of the Land of Promise, Pastor Umo Eno, “Ibom Happy Hour” remains his new tourism marketing strategy to sustain the happiness of Ibomites. He is expected to usher in the “Golden Era” in the post Udom Emmanuel’s hitch-free and impactful administration which ends on May 29, 2023.

The Enlightenment age in the 18th century ushered in the notion that happiness is the attainment of a worthy life. Since then, the pursuit of happiness has spread to every aspect of behaviour, from religion and politics to work and parenting.

Understanding the cultural commitment to good cheer as an artifact of modern history, not as an inherent feature of the human condition, opens new opportunities for understanding the key facets of our social and personal experience.

A modern Russian adage holds that “a person who smiles a lot is either a fool or an American.” It is on record that when McDonald’s arrived in Russia in 1990, one of its first tasks was to train clerks to seem cheerful while on duty.

The point here is not to disparage Russians. Most East Asian cultures also have lower happiness expectations than Americans are accustomed to. Some Latin American cultures tend in the other direction.

The point is that cultural variations on happiness are considerable, contributing to the findings of international happiness polls that dot the contemporary public opinion landscape.

Moreover, attitudes toward happiness don’t just vary; they change. Exploring the nature of such change, not only illuminates our own context for happiness but also allows us to assess its advantages and downsides. Without historical perspective, American expectations seem so normal and so natural that they are difficult to evaluate.

The fact is that the commitment to happiness in Western culture is relatively modern. Untill the 18th century it was not encouraged. If anything, a slightly saddened approach to life, with facial expressions to match. As one dour Protestant put it, God would encourage a person who “allowed no joy or pleasure, but a kind of melancholic demeanour and austerity.”

This does not mean people were actually unhappy, they simply cannot know that, because cultural standards and personal temperament interact in complicated ways.

But there is no question that many people felt obliged to apologize for the moments of happiness they did encounter. Sinful humanity had best displayed a somewhat sorrowful humility.

This changed dramatically with the 18th century and the values of the Enlightenment. Alexander Pope declared, “Oh happiness! our being’s end and aim!” while one John Byrom urged that “it was the best thing one could do to be always cheerful…and not suffer any sullenness.”

The charge here was double-edged and has remained so. On the one hand, it was now perfectly legitimate to seek happiness. On the other, not being happy, or at least not seeming to be, was a problem to be avoided.

Ordinary people began writing about their interest “in enjoying happiness and independence.” Disasters, such as the brutal yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia in 1793, produced recommendations to the survivors to keep up their spirits and avoid excessive grief.

The list of historians working on happiness is not long, but those who have tackled some aspects of the subject generally agree: “At the level of rhetoric, at least, a significant shift occurred in Western culture around 250 years ago”.

Akwa Ibomites are naturally peaceful, loving and service-oriented. From the natural environment to the beautiful cheerful faces on the streets of Uyo and other cities, you feel a warm welcome. They are ready to render assistance to visitors, either by showing you courtesy or offering you delicious local dishes of your choice.

Whenever you are in Uyo, the capital city of Akwa Ibom State, for business or leisure, be sure to put aside an hour of your day at least once to indulge in the Ibom Happy Hour at the nearest bar or restaurant. Perhaps longer as happy hour deals in Uyo, which may often tend to exceed 60 minutes!

“You will rub shoulders with office workers of all kinds who have checked out of work for the evening and headed to their local bar for a pint or two to wait for the rush hour”..

From your accommodation in Uyo or Eket, you will find within a walking distance to some terrific watering holes where you can treat yourself to a refreshing drink without blowing your budget. Whilst you are waiting for the hour to tick to happy, enjoy a drink and a light bite at the bar on-site at a Park.
Welcome to Akwa Ibom, the emerging “Pleasure Destination”

Dr. Piriye Kiyaramo is Senior Special Assistant to Bayelsa State Governor on Tourism.


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