Why Akwa Ibom is Africa newest tourism hub
Ever wondered why everybody is migrating to Akwa Ibom State? Ever pondered why the whole world now empties into the Nigerian state of Akwa Ibom which was once- upon-a-time a provincial civil service entity? Well, you need not wonder anymore. The reason is simple. Akwa Ibom has transformed. An international airport, two five-star hotels (the second, the majestic Tropicana emporium complete with shopping malls and Cineplexes to be commissioned next year), the best golf course in West Africa, clement weather condition all year round, and globally acknowledged culinary excellence all combine to draw visitors to Nigeria’s most commercially transformed state.
In the old Eastern region, it was Aba, Port Harcourt, Calabar and Enugu. Uyo was then a sleepy town remembered for its legendary dog meat pepper soup delicacy styled 404. But that was the old order. Uyo, Eket and the entire Akwa Ibom State has transited from a strictly civil service and largely residential state to a buzzing commercial hub. Governor Godswill Akpabio, the man behind the ‘Uncommon Transformation’ story of the state is feeling grand about the whole story. He is aware of the commercial fervency on the streets of Uyo. He understands that many merchants and business people have found safe climes in Akwa Ibom. He says he is building a state that will in future provide a superior alternative to Abuja and Lagos. Is he dreaming?
Perhaps, a dream but history, they say, belongs to dreamers. Akpabio does not have to wait for his dreams to come to pass. It is already happening. The reality today is that Uyo has become the destination of all. From company Annual General Meetings (AGMs) to family holidays and conferences, the new Akwa Ibom has continued to play host to diverse communities and the locals are the happier for it.
“This type of facility (Ibom Tropicana Hotel) is to stop capital flight. Instead of Nigerians flying overseas to spend their holiday, they will fly into Akwa Ibom and it is already happening. We are putting it to full use very soon and Hilton worldwide has agreed to run the hotel. It is complete with shopping mall and other state-of-the-art facilities that you can find anywhere in America or Europe”, the governor once said.
The Ibom Tropicana Resort is truly a resort in all ramifications. It has six Cineplexes where Akwa Ibom people and visitors to the state are already watching movies including those released in NewYork last week. Part of the resort is a 250-bedroom hotel sitting on 15 floors. It also has a 5000 capacity Convention Centre nearing completion with a wet and dry park attached to it. “We are developing it as a one-stop entertainment centre and our projection is that it will create 5000 jobs, directly and indirectly, after completion”, explains Aniekan Umanah, the state’s Commissioner for Information.
The Tropicana mirrors Sun City of South Africa and the all-time famous Disneyland. Next time you want to see a movie, the Tropicana Resort is your best bet.
And if you are a golf freak, tee off to the Ibom Golf Resort, by far the largest and greenest golf resort in this part of the world. With the five-star Le Meridien Hotel casting its shadow on the golf garden, you can never get a better and more luxuriating golf experience.
A piece of warning! For protocol handlers organizing a show – AGM, conference, luncheon etc – for their organisation, you are advised to move in fast because the traffic is getting higher and so are the stakes. It might shock you to know that these resorts have been fully booked for the rest of the year.
Business travellers and fun-seekers look out for a couple of parameters: adequate security, access to communications tools, convenient transport facilities, friendly, not rowdy, ambience and tasty variety of food. All of this is on offer in the new Akwa Ibom State.