Plans by the Government of Cross River State to partner with Ghana on the development of tourism in West Africa's sub region has been bluntly turned down by the government of Ghana because tourism potentials and development in the state is seen as that of a competitor than of a partner.
Cross River State Governor, Mr. Donald Duke made this disclosure in Calabar at an interactive meeting with selected leaders of thoughts in the state on the way forward for the state as touching the question of good governance, peaceful co-existence, security and development of the state in the years ahead, even after his administration.
Duke said his administration had to focus on tourism and agriculture as the two development pillars for the state, since it has a comparative advantage in those two areas. Accordingly, on tourism, Ghana was identified as being sucessful in her tourism development in the west Africa sub-region, having surpassed Gambia lately.
He said, “the state approached Ghana to partner with them under an arrangement whereby a package would be designed through Aero Contractors' Airliners to convey interested tourists from Ghana to Lagos and onward to Obudu Ranch Resort in Cross River State.
“But after a visit to Cross River State by the Ghanaian Minister of Tourism, where he was able to assess the tourist sites in Cross River State, the Minister and his entourage, came to a conclusion that with what they saw, the state was more of a competitor in the sub-region then a partner, Duke maintained.
He told the audience that his administration's plan and vision was to achieve a target where the state will be the number one tourism destination in the whole of West Africa by the year 2010.
He stressed that the state was already on course with development at the Obudu Ranch Resort, a canopy walkway in Boki's Forest Reserve, the Tinapa Business and Leisure resort, the Marina beach development among others. Adding, “so far, this administration has invested over N60billion in tourism development, an amount that is the largest single investment on tourism by any government in the West African sub-region.”
Governor Duke told the people that he has a burden of how the state could enthrone good governance and leadership to ensure unhindered growth of the state economy which must be built continually on the two pillars of tourism and agriculture no matter who takes over from his administration.
The tourism package he noted is an integrated one meaning that infrastructure, education, healthcare, security, environment amongst others must be put right in the state. He revealed that in Ghana, it was a serene environment, good security and an atmosphere of peace that really makes the tourism industry to strive. Infrastruturally, their tourist site is their Canopy walkway that is smaller than the one being developed in Cross River and their slave history which is equally not rich as the one in Cross River. He concluded saying that his dream is to make Cross River State the face of a new Nigeria.