Preparations are in top gear for the successful hosting of the National Association of Tour Operators, NATOP, Annual General Meeting, AGM in Akwa Ibom State.
President of NATOP, Hajia Bilkisu Abdul says, the choice of Akwa Ibom is not accidental as the State is secure and has the infrastructure needed for tourism to thrive, “It has one of the best resorts in Nigeria, it has an airline and an airport”.
In a joint news conference with the Akwa Ibom Commissioner of Tourism, the NATOP President explained that NATOP uses its AGM to promote domestic destinations, adding that their past destinations of choice have become viable locations for Tourism.
The AGM with the Theme “Restarting Tourism in Nigeria: A new Template” will be held in Uyo from the 26th of June to the 28th. It will also involve a tour of the Tourist attractions in Akwa Ibom State for the Tour Operators and invited tourism journalists.
She thanked the State for choosing to host the AGM, and assured that the benefits their AGM would bring to the State would be humogus, adding that all Covid-19 safety protocols would strictly be adhered to.
“Domestic tourism started to come back to life towards the end of last year. I am glad to note that Akwa Ibom State became one of the star destinations for tour operators. They came for the Christmas Village events in December and observed that it was a great success. They found your state rich in attractions. As we began to breathe back life into tourism, insecurity and high airline tickets prices became a big problem”.
“In 2016 we were in Calabar, Cross River state for our AGM, in 2017 we moved to Lagos, in 2018 we were in Jos, Plateau State in 2019 we went to Ile Ife, Osun State. We did not hold AGM in 2020 as we do not think virtual conferences yield value for Tourism. We must do what we preach. If people don’t move there is no tourism so we move people.”
“As we come to Uyo our members will obey all the approved Covid19 protocols and we hope to enjoy the bounties that Akwa Ibom offers. Our Guest Speaker for this AGM is the Former Minister of Tourism Ghana Honorable Catherine Afeku who initiated the very successful year of Return Project in Ghana. She will share with us some of her experiences as we seek to restart Tourism after the Covid19 pandemic troubles. On behalf of the Association, I thank Akwa Ibom State for hosting NATOP for our AGM. Please get your packages ready. Our members shall come and they will put Akwa Ibom tourism on the global map.”
The joint news conference also afforded the Akwa Ibom Commissioner of Tourism Orman Esin and his information and strategy counterpart Comrade Ini Emem Obong to list the tourism offerings of Akwa Ibom.
According to Hon. Esin “Akwa Ibom the real deal, we have the options for all types of tourism in Nigeria. We have the biggest hotel property in West Africa, consistent growth over the years. We knew that bringing Naija7Wonders group to our state in December for the Christmas Village will bring us the attention we needed. Now we have secured the AGM of the strongest promoters of Tourism in Nigeria. We are your partners and will grow tourism together. The Governor has a vision of a modern state and has deliberately engineered the development of industries and improved on the existing infrastructure. Today Ibom Air is celebrated all over the nation as a standard of excellence.”
The Information and Strategy Commissioner Comrade Emem obong in his speech highlighted the strong points of Akwa Ibom State.
“Cuisine, infrastructure, scenery, people and buildings are the hallmarks of Akwa Ibom State. We are a very secure place not by accident but by the determination, focus and will of the state government. The Governor is an industrialist and the state will benefit from energizing the tourism stakeholders to come and enjoy the synergy of our facilities. Akwa Ibom is your best choice for Tourism in Nigeria.”