Nigeria’s economy is set for another major boost in the tourism sector as Carnival Calabar, organisers of the annual Calabar Carnival, promised to attract one million tourists to participate in this year’s event.
According to the Chairman of Carnival Calabar, Mr. Gabe Onah who featured at the recently held Akwaaba Africa Travel Market in Lagos, several new innovations have been loaded into this year’s Carnival which is expected to host no less than 40 countries of Asia, Europe, America, South America and Africa to make it more colourful, thicker and more crowd pulling than the past ones.
Onah noted that this year’s event is a build up to the original aim of the carnival to showcase and boost Nigerian tourism potentials, culture and traditions for the economic gains of the country.
He said the country has already gained a lot from the carnival which he said has helped tremendously in catering for youth empowerments as well as causing a notable increase in hospitality business around Calabar, Cross Rivers State.
“The impact of the Calabar Carnival has been tremendous on Calabar. It has increase in the building of hotels in the city. It has created more jobs yearly and it has increased tourists’ arrival. The number of tourists increase yearly and this really boost our economy yearly,” he stressed.
Onah said many Nigerian products, like wears, Palm wine, goods and services are now being showcased and patronised by foreign tourists in exchange for foreign currencies and with a boost on Nigeria’s economy.
“From receiving three countries to five countries, now we receive thirty countries. We have grown international arrivals from one percent to 3 percent and we believe we can do better this year to about 4.5 percent.
“My prayer is that we can change the stories for ourselves. If you look at our banners, you will see that we are playing a theme called Africanism. Every year, we identify a theme for the band to interpret. By Africanism we are saying let’s be strong. Let’s believe in what we have; let’s protect what we have; let us have confidence in each other. We cannot rubbish ourselves for the white people. Let us believe in ourselves because there is nothing our children are looking for in Europe and they are dying in the deserts that they cannot achieve here.
According to him, the carnival has brought in International and local people together with the support of Nigeria Council of Arts and Culture (NCAC), under the leadership of Otunba Olusegun Runsewe, to fight hunger in the state and the country at large.