December 1, 2020, marked the day that the Akwa Ibom Christmas Village was reopened, and it has so far created a value of over N1 billion, according to the State Government.
According to a statement by Orman Esin, the Commissioner for Tourism, Akwa Ibom State, the Village was a testament to the fact that the state was ready for the business of tourism.
This he stated when a team of tour operators, stakeholders and journalists from Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt visited the state.
He however lamented that the with the ravaging Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown, the 2020 Christmas season looked bleak as annual events were cancelled all over the world, including the record setting annual 9999 event in Uyo, but the opening of the village had brought live back to the state and showcased the potential of the South-south state.
As far as social distancing is concerned as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Akwa Ibom Christmas Village is set on a huge spread of land at the cultural centre, which allows for effective social distancing and respect of Covid-19 protocols, he said.
He stated that the rich tourism potential of the state was now ready for exploitation, stressing that the state had audited its tourism assets and would be launching out with programmes in the New Year to showcase them to the world.
The team visit to Akwa Ibom Christmas Village was led by Ikechi Uko, tourism expert Ambassador and members of the Seven Wonders of Nigeria project.
The visit was organised by Travellab, an Uyo based Travel Company and were hosted by the State Tourism Ministry.
The team was taken on a tour of some locations in Akwa Ibom guided by Prof. Edem Eniang, a Biodiversity expert.
They visited the Itam sacred Monkey Sanctuary and from there went to Itu confluence town where Cross River and River Eniong meets. They visited the Mary Slessor Heritage Sites. After a tour of Ikot Abasi historical sites before lunch at Ibom Resort.
According to the Commissioner, the Akwa Ibom Christmas Village was the biggest Christmas event of its kind in Africa with the size of its location and potential for growth.
“Over 600 vendors attract thousands of visitors every evening. This will become a must visit place in Nigeria every December,” he said.