Welcome to Anambra State the Ancestral home of Ndi Igbo. Ndi b’anyi ekele m unu.
In line with the United Nations World Tourism Day celebration themed: ‘Tourism and the digital transformation, it is incumbent on me as the Honourable Commissioner of the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs, Indigenous Artwork, Culture and Tourism (DICT) to explore, promote and showcase Anambra’s huge Tourism potentials to the rest of the world through digitalisation. Again this comes at an auspicious time that the state is on a spirited rebranding drive astutely led by the Governor Chief Dr. Willie Obiano.
It is no longer news that the old traditional methods of marketing tourism have of course been overtaken by digitalisation. It is based on this fact that the ministry is launching her very first portal today the 27th of September to mark the celebration of the World Tourism Day, alongside the rest of the world. We are working in tune with this year’s theme to reposition tourism in the state through the vast network of the digital transformation of the modern day. The revolution in digital broadcasting and the media at large has put on the front burner, the significance of tourism in the social, economic and political values of the people.
As you may know, our Governor Chief Willie Obiano is the first Governor in Nigeria to create a Ministry of Diaspora. It is in line with His Excellency’s vision that we launch our portal, which holds every information ndi Anambra both home and in Diaspora and the rest of the world need to know about our trendy, cosmopolitan state. Thereby giving an upsurge of the state’ tourism the requite publicity it deserves.
The continued expansion and diversification of tourism cannot be gainsaid. Tourism has indeed become arguably the fastest growing and most economic sector in the world, and the largest employer of labour. Tourism is estimated to continue growing at an average of 3.3 percent annually until 2030. It is a cash cow that can never fail. We are poised to put to great use the emergence of new technologies applied to tourism. This will be put to service by expanding the digital transformation beyond the analogue backwardness of the recent past.
The importance of digitalizing our tourism sector cannot be overemphasized. Our portal link Https://anambradiaspora.ng holds information on our tourist sites, historical heritage sites, indigenous artworks, local cuisines, traditional festivals investment opportunities and infrastructure. Also included in this portal is the opportunity for registration of ndi Anambra in Diaspora, local artistes and our Igbo made easy to be launched soon.
As the Anambra State Commissioner for DICT, I am poised to make tourism a source of revenue through the large awareness created by the digital transformation (our new web portal) the world will be very much aware of the many tourism possibilities of Ndi Anambra.
For instance, the Blessed Iwene Tansi is a hallowed site to behold. The Obu Gad, which holds the historical origin of the Igbo people, located in Aguleri is another tourist haven. These sites can attract throngs of visitors from across the globe. There is also the need to promote the Aguve tree, which is called the Trinity Tree by documenting its mystery.
As the former Director- General of the Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) at the federal level, I am as ever determined to use my experience to turn around tourism in Anambra state and create jobs for the youth. On this celebration of World Tourism Day, I wish to reiterate the potentials of tourism to drive the state’s economy, and indeed the nation’s economy.
Tourism happens to be the greatest employer of labour in most countries of the World as it contributes a lot to the gross domestic product of developed countries. My vision is to use my experience to make Anambra the centre of tourism in Nigeria.
The Ogbaukwu Cave and waterfalls in Owerre Ezukala, a UNESCO-approved heritage site, is a veritable wonder in Anambra state for barbeques, picnics and real adventure. We have gone far in the upgrade and renovation approved by His Excellency. The Ogbaukwu festival of the Owerre Ezukala people in Orumba South local Government has been turned into a state festival.
Owerre Ezukala is pivotal to the realization of the Anambra government’s policy objective to use tourism and hospitality to turn around the economy of the state. The 36 seater buses donated by Governor Willie Obiano to the Ministry to facilitate its activities are already branded with Ogbaukwu Cave and waterfalls pictures. These would be applied optimally for the growth of the tourism sector.
Already plans have been concluded to ease movement in and around the ogabukwu cave and waterfalls. The other structures built include rest rooms, bars and tourism information stands. All these will be completed before the end of the year.
Investors are already showing tremendous interest in partnering with the government to develop the various sites including Igboukwu Museum, Ogbunike Cave and Ojukwu Bunker.
The age- old Ogbunike cave is another UNESCO approved world heritage site that Anambra state proudly counts on and is fondly used for weddings.
So I urge you as we celebrate World Tourism Day to think Anambra when considering locations for movie shoots, musical videos, vacations, group/school tour and recreational activities and ultimately for Ndi Anambra to think “Eluomunoamaka”
And finally with the digital transformation available, the world is poised to gain from the many tourist riches of Anambra state. It is a process that has been put on full throttle and success is definitely assured. It is on this note of optimism that I celebrate the World Tourism Day with its grand theme; “Tourism and Digital Transformation”.
-Dr (Mrs) Sally Mbanefo is the Honourable Commissioner of Diaspora Affairs, Indigenous Artworks, Culture & Tourism, Anambra State.