Akwa Ibom State Government is leaving no stone unturned in preparations for a memorable tourism events this Yuletide, beginning December 1.
According to the Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Sir Charles Udoh, who spoke with newsmen in Uyo, on Friday, “preparations for the annual Christmas Village (now Christmas Park) and the Akwa Ibom Carols Festival are in top gear.
Sir Udoh said the leadership direction and hospitality experience of Governor Umo Eno has engendered innovations in the planning of the two events, for the greater pleasure of participants and the interest of Akwa Ibom State.
Speaking on the Christmas Park, the Culture and Tourism Commissioner said the 32-day event “will feature a daily dose of a mixed grill of back-to-back musical events, drama, comedy, games, cultural display, talent shows, outdoor catering and lounging,” adding that it would also “Provide exceptional brand visibility, networking opportunities, and the chance for corporate bodies to showcase their commitments to corporate social responsibility.”
The Christmas Park Grounds, along Udo Udoma Avenue, Udoh said would have a new look and feel as its layout will have named streets, lanes and directional signs for easy identification of kiosks.
He added that each of the 31 councils of the state would feature alongside other key stakeholders like legislators and State Executive Council members and their wives, on each of the 32 days of the event. Noting that the Village Square at the park is made of a thatched roof, he said indigenous culture, traditional wrestling and local delicacies would be on display.
Already, according to the Commissioner, prospective vendors at the park are indicating interest and registering through the official website www.discoverakwaibom.com, a novel development in the organization of the annual event, designed to promote business, entertainment and talents.
Another innovation brought to bear in the planning of 2023 Christmas celebrations in Akwa Ibom, according to Sir Udoh is the staging of the twin tourism events at the same venue location. He said this underscores the government’s determination to apply economy of scale and concentrate crowd on the same grounds, even as each event will be demarcated on December 15, the date for the Akwa Ibom Carols Festival.
One hundred percent local content input for choristers and gospel artists, the Commissioner said “is another innovation that will set the 2023 edition of the Carols Festival apart.” With 17 choral groups, to be drawn from among indigenous churches and 13 indigenous gospel artistes, who are stars in their own rights, Sir Udoh said, the choristers and artistes would be marketed to the world, as the event would enjoy the usual international viewership, through live television broadcast and online streaming.
The new 20,000-capacity arena for the Carols Festival, the Commissioner said would henceforth serve as the venue for the annual event as well as other crowd-related functions of the state government.
To underscore the tourism destination status of Akwa Ibom, the Culture and Tourism boss said the State Tourism Calendar for 2024 would be announced on December 1, to enable potential tourists and other corporate organisations to make plans to be part of the new tourism initiatives, as encapsulated in the ARISE Agenda of the Umo Eno administration.
He added that the Ibom Leadership and Entrepreneurial Development, Uyo has been engaged to train vendors at the 2023 Christmas Park on how to sustain their businesses beyond the Christmas season. Some banks, according to him, would also be on hand to train participants on business finance management.
On his part, the Commissioner for Information, Comrade Ini Ememobong, said, the decision of the government to use this global stage to promote local talents situates welll within the localization disposition of the Governor. He is pro-local and insists that global artistes were first local before receiving global acclaim.
According to the Commissioner, the Governor, has therefore, “charged all the artistes to bring on their best game in their performance knowing that they big stage can change their fortunes.”