From Austine Tule, Makurdi
Since 1980, the United Nations World Tourism Organization set aside September 27 every year for the celebration of World Tourism Day.
The major objectives of the celebration include the creation of awareness about the social, economic, cultural, and political importance of tourism and to encourage people to become responsible tourists.
Tourism has continued to be recognized from day to day as people continue to travel to places far and near which is an important part of the industry. This helps to dispel prejudice and ignorance.
Usually, themes are created each year as the focus of the celebration. In 2019 the theme was Tourism and Jobs: a better future for all.
While the major event was held in Delhi, India, the celebration was replicated around the world with various activities lined up to mark the Day.
In Benue State the Tourism Department of the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism organized the celebration which was held at the Banquet Hall of Benue Hotels in Makurdi.
The Department mobilized stakeholders and staged paper presentation, panel discussion, and cultural entertainment to mark the occasion.
Top government functionaries including the State Governor, Samuel Ortom, Chairman, House Committee on Culture and Tourism, Hon. Terungwa Orban, and the State Information, Culture and Tourism Commissioner, Rt. Hon. Mrs Ngunan Addingi, played prominent roles during the celebration.
Information, Culture and Tourism Ministry, Mrs. Addingi, represented by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Mr James Agbo, assured that the Ortom administration would encourage the implementation of a tourism policy and master plan.
The commissioner maintained that the state government would also identify and develop heritage sites in collaboration with private and other partners.
She stated that investors can take advantage of the abundant tourism potentials of the state as well as the serene climate, and the peace loving accommodating people who have attractive positive cultures awaiting exploration and exploitation.
The Commissioner expressed appreciation to both the federal and state governments for supporting the establishment of the Zonal Office of the National Institute For Hospitality and Tourism in Makurdi to coordinate activities in the North Central Zone.
Governor Ortom, who was represented by his Special Adviser on Culture and Tourism, Rt Hon. Mzenda Iho, assured that everything would be done to ensure the take-off of the Institute in the state.
He appealed to the private sector, individuals and organizations to synergize more with the state government to harness the abundant tourism potentials in addition to the entire tourism value chain.
The Governor stated that he has directed the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism to conclude work on the Benue Tourism Policy as well as Tourism Master Plan after which work to develop selected tourism sites would commence.
In his paper presentation on the topic for the year, Mr. Efta Kamfani Likkason, Zonal Coordinator and Head of Campus of the National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism in Benue State submitted that for many developing countries tourism has become the catalyst for economic development.
The Zonal Coordinator was represented by the Director of Tourism in the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, Mrs Dooter Ajoko.
He gave an example of the United States of America where the industry has come a long way from 1950 when it was able to attract 25 million international visitors and to generate two million dollars to 2005 when the industry raked in over $623 billion for that country.
Mr Likkason stated that the acceptance of the industry could be attributed to the fact that it does not face international trade restriction such as quotas and tariffs like the export of raw materials.
The paper presenter also noted that tourism remains a major source of employment because of its labour-intensive nature and the significant multiplier effect on employment in all sectors accounting for one in ten jobs worldwide.
Mr. Likkason stated that in a move to be part of a global trend to deploy the tourism platform for the provision of jobs the Benue State Government in partnership with the National Institute For Hospitality and Tourism are making efforts to establish the institute in Makurdi.
He commended the administration of Governor Samuel Ortom for providing a site, accommodation and equipment for the smooth take off of the institute despite the challenges confronting the state.
The Zonal Coordinator appealed that the final stages for the take-off of the institute should be concluded to ensure the commencement of training.
The panellists at the event were Dr Samuel Ngishe of Za Swem, Reverend Father Solomon Mfa Ukeyima, Convener of Ikyegh Sha Ishwa, who was represented by Mr. Shadrach Ukuma of the Benue State University, and Mr. Levi O’bem Yakubu, Master Potter and founder of Dajo Pottery, Makurdi.
They examined various aspects of the related thematic areas of education, jobs and skills.
Guests at the celebration had a pleasant time as numerous dance groups and outstanding artistes entertained them.
Those who commented on the occasion noted that it was a worthwhile event that justified the attention given to it in Benue State.