The proprietor of Rojenny Tourist Village, Oba in Idemili South Local Government Area of Anambra State, Chief Rommy Ezeonwuka has called for conversation of new yam festivals across Igboland to a one-year event to promote tourism.
Chief Rommy Ezeonwuka lamented that State government has neglected what he described as huge tourism potential which he said would have yielded enough revenue to the State.
Chief Rommy Ezeonwuka said that Anambra State has been losing billions of naira in tourism because of neglect of that sector of the economy, adding that even the billions of naira he invested had not yielded the desired results because of economic strangulation and lack of government support to the sector.
“Tourism situation in Anambra now is very bad. It has gone into abyss. It’s completely dead.
“When you talk of tourism, it has so many dimensions. You have sports tourism, religious tourism, amusements and entertainment tourism, and many others.
“If you want to talk about tourism that can enter people’s nerves and change their attitude with the right transformation, you think about sports.
“Government that killed sports, has killed social life and the entire potential of youths in sports. Youths can do well in sports. You see what those in sports are paid in Europe and other countries of the world.
You can embezzle all the money you can as a politician or civil servant but you can’t match the fortune those in sports make outside the country, ” he explained.
Chief Ezeonwuka said one could imagine what good players who were assigned on with the European and American leagues or Chinese league could make which he said ran into millions and billions of dollars. He noted that the same was applied in athletics.
Chief Rommy Ezeonwuka insisted that sports brought love, peace and social interaction among the youths devoid of ethnic consideration. He regretted that all of these could no longer be achieved as a result of the neglect of sporting events.
He noted that some Nigerians flew outside the country to visit places like Kenya, China, Dubai and other countries in search of tourist attractions.
According to him, people traveled to Egypt to see the Egyptian’s pyramids and other tourist attractions in that country.
“In the Western Nigeria, you have the Osun festival. In Calabar, Cross River State you have serious promotion of cultural heritage there which attracts hundreds of people from outside Nigeria.
“We should have things like that in Anambra State. I have recommended to Anambra State government or Ndigbo to use New Yam festival in Igboland as an international tourism package so that New Yam festivals will be done simultaneously on one day across Igbo nation just like Christmas.
“Not when one Igwe celebrates New Yam festival, every Dick, Tom and Harry will also do the same. New Yam festival should be a one-day activity in Igboland.
“You have some deities that can be packaged as tourism materials. This will include mmanwu (masquerades) that can be gathered form many parts of various communities in the Old Eastern Region to entertain both Nigerians and foreigners.
That will generate huge revenues for the State and others that could adopt that ideology, if properly harnessed, ” he recommended.
Chief Ezeonwuka said similarly traditional dances indigenous to communities could be packaged to entertain the entire world with the attendant revenue generation.
“What we see and hear today is burial tourism where someone buries his father or mother and the whole big men will come and throw away money which is very dangerous. You can convert this into cultural festival.
“I remember when Nigeria had Festac ’77, a mega cultural festival. It attracted visitors from all over the world. We can export tourist potential from our land.
I invested billions of naira in tourism but the leadership has not supported the ambition. That’s why youths have nothing to do other than to go into drugs addiction.
“Jamaica used sports to transform their youths. Why can’t we do the same thing?” , Chief Ezeonwuka asked.