Top government functionaries, captains of industries, business entrepreneurs, tourism and hospitality stakeholders in the state converged on Watbridge Hotels and Suites, Tuesday, for the maiden edition of Akwa Ibom tourism roundtable, entitled “Succeeding in the land of limitless possibilities”.
Organised by Akwa Ibom Hotel Management and Tourism Board (AKHMTB) in collaboration with the Coalition ofTourism and Hospitality Practitioners (COHOPTA), the roundtable afforded a pltform to brainstorm on the way forward for the tourism industry in the state.
Chairman, Akwa Ibom Hotel Management and Tourism Board, Mr Ini Akpabio, in his remarks, applauded the state governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel, for the iconic infrastructural developments that has made the state a destination of choice for tourism in the global market.
Akpabio said tourism outside crude oil, is a huge revenue spinner that has helped boost the economies of many countries in the world.
The chairman said the maiden edition of the roundtable was put in place to harness the various tourism potentials available in the state for development.
He expressed appreciation to the Coalition of Tourism and Hospitality Practitioners for their efforts to invest in the tourism sector of the economy as well as the State House of Assembly for deliberating on bills that promote tourism business and activities in the state.
Akpabio also congratulated the special guests of honour, the PDP gubernatorial flag bearer, Pastor Umo Bassey Eno and his running mate, Senator Akon Eyakenyi, for contributing to the development of tourism and hospitality industry in the state, with both having served as commissioner for industry, commerce and tourism and chairman of the Tourism Board.
The tourism board chairman explained that the roundtable was a modest attempt to honour persons and corporate organisations that have invested in the industry for sustainable growth and congratulated Pastor Umo Eno, Senator Akon Eyakenyi and other award recipients for distinguishing themselves in the tourism sector.
In his remarks, the chairman on the occasion, PDP Senatorial candidate for Eket Senatorial District, Barr Ekong Sampson,applauded tourism practitioners who have impacted positively on the Akwa Ibom economy.
Sampson noted that tourism has sustained many economies of the world and expressed hope that the roundtable will give the practitioners and investors, opportunity to leverage on the tourism potentials that abound in the state.
He congratulated Pastor Umo Eno on his well deserved award due to his efforts and foresight in exploiting the dynamic potentials in the tourism and hospitality industry with the Royalty Hotels as a brand.
Sampson, who is proprietor of Watbrigdge Hotels and Suites, Uyo, expressed his appreciation to Gov Udom Emmanuel for making the state a destination of choice through investments in the aviation industry, which has boosted traffic of tourists and investors to the state.
The PDP gubernatorial candidate, Pastor Umo Eno, said he was humbled by the recognition accorded him by his fellow practitioners in the tourism industry.
Eno dedicated his award to Governor Emmanuel for his landmark infrastructural achievements that has made AkwaIbom a choice destination that has attracted an influx of tourists and investors, courtesy of the peaceful ambience and fantastic road network in the state.
He said Akwa Ibom has carved a niche with Ibom Air flying the air space, and breaking records as the only airline owned by a state with over 10 aircrafts.
Eno further noted that tourism has created numerous employment opportunities globally and noted its enormous potentials to generate foreign exchange in Akwa Ibom, by developing and exposing our rich cultural heritage to the world.
The governorship candidate called on stakeholders to use the roundtable to evolve a comprehensive compendium of touristsites available and get a blueprint for its development to attract more investors to the state.
He also emphasised on the need for training of hospitality workers and transport operators on etiquettes so they do not de-market the state by their actions and utterances thereby chasing away potential investors.
High point of the event was the unveiling of the “Umo Bassey Eno Hospitality and Tourism Entrepreneurial Fund”by Pastor Umo Eno, presentation of awards to distinguished personalities including the commissioner of Police, Akwa Ibom State command, CP Olatoye Durosinmi; Elder Benjamin Udobia; President, Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN), Mr Nkereuwem Unung; SSA on Tourism Development, Bayelsa State, Mr Priye Kuyaramo; Ikot Abasi Local Government Area, among others.
Goodwill messages were presented at the occasion by the member representing Onna State Constituency, Hon Nse Essien, while the roundtable featured a keynote address by Mr Joseph Utin of Akwa Tourism Development Company (ATDC) on the theme, “Succeeding in the land of limitless possibilities”. It also featured presentations by various culturaland choral groups, who added flair and colour to the event.
Present at the occasion were the commissioner for culture and tourism, Mr Orman Esin; Commissioner for information and strategy, Comrade Ini Ememobong, ably represented by the director of information and Tourism Board member, Mrs Blessing Urua; newly reappointed chairman, Akwa Ibom State Environmental Protection and Waste Management Agency (AKSEPWMA) Obong Prince Ikim; Pageant queens and other dignitaries.
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