…as Calabar carnival re-jigged to offer more
Barely a month to the 2023 Calabar carnival begins, the state’s governor, Bassey Otu has promised that this year’s edition will be used to further raise the bar for tourism development in the state as well as using it to consolidate on the destination branding element of the annual event.
Speaking during a breakfast meeting with global chief executive officers in Lagos, Governor Otu announced that his administration will grant tax holidays to the investors willing to invest in the state, adding that the state targets 20 percent GDP increase from Tourism and other sectors of the economy this year.
“Your presence here speaks volume of your confidence and support for my administration. I don’t take that for granted at all. For those of you willing to do business in Cross River State, we assure you of every incentive and support to do business including tax holidays and lots more.
While expressing the administration’s determination to create an enabling environment for all businesses to thrive, the governor said, “For all the banks, manufacturers, and every other business willing to come to our state, we assure you of great opportunities to make good fortunes in terms of fantastic government policy, regulations and conducive business environment,” the governor assured.
Speaking to Journalists on the sideline of the event, the governor reaffirmed his commitment to use this year’s carnival, being his first as governor to consolidate on the development of the tourism sector in Cross River State.
“The highlight of this year’s carnival will be continuity and consolidation. You know the carnival has gained a trajectory now. It’s been on for a couple of years and it’s the biggest one in this part of Africa. So, all I can say for this year’s edition is that it’s going to be electrifying. In addition to other activities lined up for the carnival, this year’s edition will re-awake the children aspect of the carnival to strengthen family bonding and entertain children,” he said.
While emphasizing the economic focus of his administration, he pointed out that currently, the state’s GDP is growing at 20%, with amalgamation of the potentials and opportunities in various sectors.
“As we are currently growing our state’s GDP by 20%, to make tourism contribute well to the economy of the state, it has to be done very well. All we’re trying to do this year is to see how to fuse everybody because the carnival is not in the level of interconnection of sectors now, including the state and the sub-national economy. We also need to invest heavily in the health sector because somebody must be healthy to do the carnival. At some level now because of the modernization and level of technology, we must strive to see that our youths are well skilled and educated to be able to participate very well because there’s a lot of international content that is also going to be carried on,” the governor said.
For those in the diasporas, tourists and investors to explore the huge economic potentials of the carnival, Governor Otu said there has to be knowledge and understanding of so many things, hence the need for the Lagos stakeholders’ engagement.
He said, “So, what we did here is; we brought everybody together as a group. This is the way to go. We know very well that for some countries this is their mainstream. For us in Cross Rivers, we want to bring the carnival on board so that it will engage a lot of unemployed youths and other people who have one or two things related to the tourism and culture sector to offer.
Also speaking on the carnival, the CEO of Okhma Consul, the official marketing company of the Carnival Calabar, Mary Ephraim- Egbas said the governor and his team are passionate about 2023 edition because the carnival is one of the main assets of the Cross River State’s tourism initiative.
“The private session with global CEOs was put together to enable the governor to interact with the stakeholders in respect to the private community and the private corporate community. Because we feel that the Carnival is a catalyst for the re -jigging of the economy of Cross River States, we see the need to give it all the necessary push. Tourism is a top priority for the State because it is a nature-based economy. Yes, they have multiple disciplines of other economic activities but tourism is topmost and the Carnival is the catalyst,” Egba stated.
Earlier, chairman of the state’s carnival commission, Mr. Gabe Onah, had expressed the state government’s willingness to grow the tourism sector, calling on investors to see the state as an investment destination of choice.