Gov. Douye Diri, Bayelsa State
Facilitator of the South-South Tourism Roundtable, Dr. Piriye Kiyaramo has urged the governors of the South-South region, comprising Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo and Rivers states to factor in the tourism sector in their development blueprints.
Dr. Kiyaramo made the call when the chairman of Akwa Ibom Tourism and Hospitality Practitioners’ Association (AKTHOPA) and Managing Director of Legacy Tourism Services Uyo, Mr. Usen Udoh visited him in his office in Yenagoa recently, noting that sustainable tourism practice has proven to be a veritable tool for socio-economic development.
According to Dr. Kiyaramo, who is the Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa State on Tourism, mainstreaming of the tourism sector in their development agendas will go a long way in creating jobs and invariably wealth at the rural areas in line with global best practices, informing that communities around the world, have benefitted immensely from tourism.
While advocating the urgent need to give tourism due attention, he argued that tourism, as the driver of socio-economic growth and development, will create a level playing field for investors in the sector, adding that tourism can be a positive force that would bring economic, social and environmental benefits to the oil rich south south geographical zone.
The governor’s aide reiterated further that prioritizing tourism in the development blueprints of the state governors in the region would propel the states to pay attention to the untapped potentials, particularly the Blue Economy corridors.
He maintained that tourism accounts for an estimated 26% of ocean-based economic activities, making it a key driver of the blue economy by enhancing the value of marine conservation, increased revenue, job opportunities and investments, contributing positively to rural development, protection of cultural heritage, and conservation of the natural habitats.
Earlier, the visiting chairman of Akwa Ibom Tourism and Hospitality Practitioners’ Association (AKTHOPA) and facilitator of South-South Tourism Roundtable in Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Usen Udoh said he deemed it fit to visit the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Tourism to interface with him on critical issues regarding the holistic development of the tourism and hospitality sector acrosssouth-south region.
Mr. Udoh highlighted the importance of connecting the south-south region through tourism activities and research with a view to promoting the region as an economic bloc in line with global best practices, informing that the governor of Akwa Ibom State, Pastor Umo Bassey Eno is already taking steps to meanstream the tourism and hospitality sector in his “Arise Development Agenda”, incorporating pro-poor tourism initiatives to create wealth at the grassroots.
He noted that the south-south region, being so rich in ecological tourism potentials, makes the area an ideal destination for eco-tourism, reiterating that nature-based tourism which is in high demand, will not only increase the value placed on the unspoiled nature and wildlife, but that it will also generate funds for conservation of the rich biodiversity.
“Tourism is often an innovator of sustainable consumption and production in promoting climate change awareness. Tourism can protect or revive intangible cultural heritage, music, performing arts, and oral traditions. It offers great opportunities for emerging economies and developing countries.
“Tourism creates jobs, strengthens the local economy, contributes to local infrastructure development and helps to conserve the natural environment and cultural assets and traditions, and to reduce poverty and inequality. This can be achieved if local people are able to benefit from the income opportunities arising from tourism”, The AKTHOPA chairman maintained.