By Steve Oko
Abia State has initiated moves to retrieve Ojukwu Bunker, National War Museum, and other important tourism sites in the state that are currently under the control of the Federal Government for better management.
Music legend and Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Tourism and Entertainment, Dr Justice Martins popularly known as J. Martins, disclosed this during a press conference to mark the World Tourism Day in Umuahia.
He said that the State Government had already engaged the Federal Ministry of Tourism, and expressesed optimism that the move would be successful.
The idea, according to him, is to prevent such historic and important tourism sites from further deterioration.
He said that the intention of the Alex Otti-led administration, was to revive the tourim and entertainment industry in the state and make the sector one of the active job and revenue generating sectors.
The SSA who said there are over 17 tourism sites in the state, further hinted that efforts were on to identify and harness other tourism potentials in the state.
He said that plans were also in the pipeline to develop the popular Azumini Blue River in Ukwa East, and turn the area into a major tourism site in the country.
J. Martins further said there were plans to build leisure parks in Aba, Umuahia and Ohafia representing the three senatorial zones in the state.
He also hinted that by October the State Government would begin the certification of hotels in the state with a view to classifying them according to their ranks, and ensuring efficient service delivery.
According to him, hotel owners in the state have already expressed delight over the proposal, promising to upgrade their facilities.
He said that Government would help to market and promote hotels in the state after ensuring that they are of acceptable standards.
The SSA who said that the Governor was intentional about rebuilding infrastructure in the state as part of the strategies to promote the toursim industry.
Asked if his political assignment would still afford him time to showcase his talent in the entertainment industry, the Abia -born music icon said he had not abandoned music.
” I’m music and music is me. But for the moment, there are critical issues in the tourism sector in Abia which we have come to salvage. The music talent in me will not die”.
He acknowledged the immense impact that tourism had made “on our world, both in terms of global connections and our local economy.”
“I want to emphasize the importance of tourism and the critical role it plays in shaping our future, as well as the imperative for local actions in paving the way towards a diversified and green economy as the 2023 theme focuses on green investments and tourism.”
Continuing, he said:”Tourism is not just about visiting new places; it’s about forging connections, understanding different cultures, and appreciating the incredible diversity of our world.
“It transcends borders and fosters a sense of unity among people. It has the power to break down stereotypes, promote tolerance, and build bridges of understanding. In a world where conflicts and divisions often dominate headlines, tourism becomes a force for peace and harmony.
“Yet, the impact of tourism extends far beyond cultural exchanges. It is a formidable driver of economic growth, providing livelihoods to millions of people around the globe.
“Small and large businesses, from local artisans to international hotel chains, rely on the tourism industry for their sustenance. As we emerge from the challenges posed by the global pandemic and insecurity, tourism can be a crucial catalyst for economic recovery and resilience.
“Under the leadership of His Excellency, Dr. Alex Otti, OFR, Abia is positioned to drive a regional and national tourism growth and is poised to strive to position Abia as a safe destination of choice for quality entertainment, leisure and tourism”.
“We are jointly developing a blueprint for action in achieving the mandate of Dr Alex Otti’s led administration drive for a more robust and inclusive economy”, he added.