To encourage economic diversity through tourism development

Governor Liyel Imoke, on Wednesday, disclosed that Cross River State will host the 53rd Session of African Ministers of Tourism in June.

Imoke said that the decision was based on a request to that effect by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).

He added that the UNWTO meeting was important to Africa’s tourism development and Cross River would create synergy by working with the Federal Government because “it sees it as a value market to maximise benefits”.

Imoke said that his administration would work with the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Orientation to drive the process, adding that the forum would be an opportunity for the state to share its vision with the global community.

He called for the introduction of “tourism visa” in the country as is done in advanced countries, saying Nigeria was gradually creating an impact in the tourism sector.

According to Imoke, the meeting would be a good opportunity to place Cross River on the world tourism map.

Speaking also, the Minister of Culture, Tourism and Orientation, Edem Duke, said that 56 African Tourism Ministers, 25 top UNWTO officials from its headquarters in Madrid, Spain, top government officials from the participating countries as well as stakeholders in Nigeria would be in attendance.

The minister explained that the decision for an African nation to host the meeting was taken last year in South Korea.

He disclosed that when those against Nigeria hosting the meeting cited insecurity as a challenge, UNWTO decided that it should be held in Calabar, Cross River.

Duke said the hosting would also give Nigeria the opportunity to redefine its image, showcase itself as a place for conferences and exhibitions with a warm people and clean environment.

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