Friday, 26 October 2018

We are committed to reviving the collapsing tourism sector we inherited - Anderson

| 26th October 2018 | Ukorebi Esien 

The Honourable Commissioner for Culture and Tourism Development in Cross River State, Mr Eric Anderson, had said that although the present administration of Sen. Prof Ben Ayade inherited a collapsing tourism sector, he is committed to making tourism a center of attraction in the nation again, as his office have line up of activities and innovations that will both keep the state busy with the goal of reviving tourism in the state. 

Anderson who was answering questions from newsmen in his Okoi Arikpo office in Calabar noted that the government of Sen Ben Ayade was been tongue lashed for a situation that didn't begin with his administration. He added that if questions were to be asked, a lot of names will pop up but for him, the solution is just to be focus on the new innovations he as brought in and keep the vision running as he has promised that in the coming days tourism will indeed be revived in the state. 

In his words, "You know most of these facilities are been managed by the private sector and I can tell you, there were not in good shape when we took over government. All of them had one problem or the other. 
And we will not say it was as a result of neglect from this government, as you could see a situation were you would know this is not a two year damage. If you want to start asking questions, a lot of names will pop up. 
So for me, I rather concentrate on making the thing work that finding fault or blaming others. The situation of the tourism of Cross River State now, on a larger scale are all inherited issues. 

"Take for instance Marina Resort, Marina Resort was concession to Tandem just before Ayade's government came in, and then from the agreement, it's a 20 year lease, but, to be reviewed after five years, the first five years is going to be in 2019, so, in four years, you know the situation of Marina Resort. Who do you blame, please?

"But, at the point you want to blame government as landlord, you know, ''I gave my house to you and you are not taking care of it, I should take action against you''? We have terminated that contract. Yes, we have to... We have to because we call for meetings with Tandem, they don't turn up, we try to push them to do the right thing, they don't do it.

"We are receiving a lot of lashes from social media, from industry players, you know, "what is happening with our facility?", because it's our facility now and we are looking for ways to get it revive. 

"And the kind of person that I am 
I like to just be focused and move forward. It is true we have situations here and there but we are trying to move forward. From the Ranch down to Kwa Falls, I have been to those places and assessment have been carried out,  and I know where our challenges are, so we will try to give it attention. That's where we are today". He said.

He continued, "I know there's so much questions about the Ranch, Marina Resort, and a lot of things we are trying to handle, there are questions we are trying to answer, there are situation we are trying to handle,  we are trying to handle a lot of things.  As we engage the private sector that are responsible for some of those things. 

"His excellency is passionate about tourism, I can tell you that for free and we as government, from my own end, I try not to talk much but do more. As we speak the newly sworn in SA Tourism, the SA on Ranch and my Permernent Secretary are up there in the Ranch fixing up things there, they are fixing little damages, we are fixing the bedings, worn out Fisher boards, televisions, etc. There are many things we are doing that we shouldn't be saying because its actually our responsibility to do those things, I am telling you this few since you want to know what we are doing in that regard thats why am telling you". He concluded. 

As regards the issues boardering on Film House leaving the state, the commissioner revealed that part of the reasons Film house left was it tax debt to the Federal government and not the state government as was misconceived then. He  that noted that while the taxation issue was part of the reason for Film House leaving the state, the Cross River State Government through her contracting authority, Tourism Bureau had also terminated the contract between the state government and Film House for obvious reasons bordering on mismanagement of the facility.

"Film House were owing FIRS twelve million naira, not the state, FIRS shut down Marina Resort because of the tax owed by the people running the place. So, it was a Film House/Tandem issue, it wasn't a state government issue.

"I drove down to FIRS office myself that morning to wedge in for the embarrassment of locking up a state facility, that is when we knew they were owing that much, so the money that was owed as tax was not owed by state government, it was owed by Tandem, they were owing federal government, Tandem owed federal government, if you remember the report that went out.

It should be noted that there have been concerns raised by Cross Riverians on the current state of affairs of tourism and tourist sites in the state. TDN thought it wise to have a session with the Honorable Commissioner, Mr. Eric Anderson so those concerns would be addressed. 

Ukorebi Esien blogs for TDN