Imo State Commissioner for Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts, Mazi Uche Ohia has assured that the 25-year development plan rolled out by the Hope Uzodimma administration would consolidate the leading position of Imo State in tourism and hospitality in South East and South South zones for decades to come
Ohia gave the assurance at the inauguration of Imo State Chapter of the Hotel Association of Nigeria in Owerri.
He said in addition to developing critical infrastructure which aids travel and tours, and providing security of lives and property, the government was “developing a 9.2km recreation corridor along Nworie River banks in the state capital to create a family-friendly park with all tourism amenities including boat ride”.
He said the state maintained the only Zoo & Wildlife Park in South East adding that the ecotourism facility had more than 500 exotic animals including three lions.
He assured that the development plan would be backed by law to ensure that subsequent administrations would not truncate it by mere whimsical ideas.
The commissioner hinted that all the projects meant for other sectors of the Imo economy in the development plan would impact the tourism and hospitality industry positively.
The commissioner urged the hoteliers to, in the spirit of the strategic partnership between his ministry and the association, have confidence in government and provide needed data on their operations for purposes of developing policies and programmes in the interest of the public
He assured the association that Imo State Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts would not relent in its efforts to encourage faith-based organizations and professional associations to bring their conferences to Owerri, and in producing more publicity materials to ensure sustained visitor traffic to Owerri.
In his address, the Chief Servant of Imo Hoteliers Association, Chima Chukwunyere, noted that the event was “to formally inaugurate the Imo Hoteliers Association as part of the national body”.
Chukwunyere explained that after the inauguration, the Imo Hoteliers Association which had existed since 1979 would become Nigeria Hotel Association, Imo State Chapter.
Chukwunyere described the Imo State Commissioner for Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts, Mazi Uche Ohia, as “a man with fatherly heart who has been supportive to the activities of the association and has never refused to hear us in any time of need”.
He disclosed that “erratic power supply, high cost of diesel and the activities of some security agencies who see hotels as their ATM have made it impossible for the industry to thrive”.
In his address, the National Chairman of Nigeria Hotel Association, HRH Eze Patrick Anyanwu, assured the Imo chapter that “the national body will protect and defend your interests”.
Lamenting the small number of hotels in Imo that is registered with the body, Eze Patrick Anyanwu exhorted, “every hotel in Imo State should be registered with the national body of the Nigerian Hotel Association”.
In his remarks, Chairman Imo State Hotel Directors Association, Dr Etofolam Osuji praised Governor Hope Uzodimma for his efforts to secure Imo people and for providing good road infrastructure.
The inauguration which had the Permanent Secretary, Sir T.U.C Nwokonkwo and top management of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts, as well as owners and managers of Hotels in attendance, featured drama and other entertainment presentations.