Bayelsa State Government says, it is laying a solid foundation aimed at diversifying its economy from oil and gas to an agro-based one anchored on tourism.
Governor Henry Seriake Dickson made the remark at a press briefing in Yenagoa as part of activities marking the 2013 World Tourism day celebration.
Represented by his Deputy, Retired Rear Admiral Gboribiogha John Jonah, Governor Dickson said tourism all over the world has become a money spinning industry and advocated the need to pay more attention to the sector.
Speaking on the theme of the event, “Tourism and Water: Protecting Our Common Future,” he described the choice of Bayelsa for hosting the celebration as appropriate, noting that, Bayelsa is endowed with diverse natural resources, including the longest coastline in the country which has the capacity to enhance tourism and create wealth as well as job opportunities.
Governor Dickson remarked that it was in realization of this fact that his administration decided to invest in security to provide the enabling environment for the hospitality industry to thrive in the state.
As part of measures to boost the sector, he said government was making conscious efforts to provide the necessary infrastructures such as luxury hotels, roads, the proposed Agge deep sea port and airport.
The Governor, who noted that such infrastructures would create access to its tourism sites, highlighted the Brass LNG, Brass Crude Oil Export Terminal and tank farm as potential areas of attraction and foreign exchange earners.
Earlier in his remarks, the Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, High Chief Edem Duke said Bayelsa’s terrain is appropriate for hosting the event in view of its predominantly riverine nature.
According to him, the state was chosen by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO, as Africa’s Centre of Excellence for under water imaging and heritage.
High Chief Duke also highlighted the collaborative efforts between the Federal and State Governments in hosting high profile entertainment programmes with a view to enhancing Bayelsa’s capacity for future events and open up the State’s vast tourism potentials to the outside world.
Also speaking, the Commissioner for Tourism, Hon. Nelson Belief expressed optimism that this year’s theme would create awareness on the need to preserve the state’s water resources for posterity.
The 36th edition of the world tourism day featured carnival float, cultural displays and boat regatta at the Ox Bow Lake.
Chief Press Secretary to the Governor of Bayelsa State