The Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to Bayelsa State Governor on Tourism, Mr. Piriye Kiyaramo has advocated the inauguration of South-South Tourism Roundtable, stressing that, “harnessing the potential of regional economic cooperation is critical for the South South geo-political region to promote economic growth, trade, job creation and improved quality of life among the citizens.
Mr. Kiyaramo, who stated this when he visited the Chairman of Akwa Ibom Hotel Management and Tourism Board, Sir Ini Akpabio in his office in Uyo, last week, preparatory to the hosting of the 1st Akwa Ibom State Tourism Roundtable, noted that economic corridors and value chains that traverse borders can be jointly promoted by the south south states.
The governor’s aide pointed out that economic cooperation among the South South states of Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Edo and Delta would forge a stronger platform for tourism development and marketing of the rich biodiversity in the states.
He added that such cooperation for integration will go a long way in creating effective trade connectivity among the states through collaboration, partnerships and properly coordinated physical investments with a view to harmonising policies, rules, and procedures among states that make up the zone.
The SSA, maintained that: “Ultimately, an integrated south south market can emerge with economies of scale necessary to compete in international markets, given the abundance of natural resources in the region, ranging from rich cultural heritage, beautiful landscapes, arable lands, salivating local cuisines, wildlife, historic sites, cultural festivals, arts and crafts, museums, galleries, monuments, pristine sand beaches and underwater cultural heritage sites, among other artifacts.
He reiterated that meaningful regional cooperation can help the South South zone to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, lamenting that a single-minded focus on national economic strategies and actions have seemingly diverted attention from critical regional actions needed to promote energy, food, and water security-related SDGs; strengthen environmental sustainability; address climate change; and prevent natural disasters in the region.
Responding, Chairman of Akwa Ibom Hotel Management and Tourism Board, Sir Ini Akpabio, commended the initiative of a South South Tourism Roundtable to network among stakeholders across the six states of Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Edo and Delta, saying that such cooperation will enhance trade and integration, in addition to building peace in the region.
Sir Akpabio also reiterated the historic ties between Bayelsa and Akwa Ibom states, describing Bayelsans as very hospitable people, saying that his board will encourage efforts geared towards regional cooperation and integration for tourism development and promotion.
The Chairman said Akwa Ibom state state is endowed with all year round clement weather condition, hospitable people, lush vegetation, rich cultural heritage, beautiful beaches, natural undulating landscapes, arable lands, salivating cuisines, tourist attractions, good road network, infrastructure, standard hospitality facilities, peaceful ambiance and well secure environment for business.