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World Class Entertainment Centre Berths In Calabar... As C'River Govt, Blake Resort Sign N2b Agreement To Develop Tortuga Island

In the last two decades, Cross River state has been noted as the epicentre of tourism. It has been designated as Nigeria's destination point as the state boasts of beautiful international tourism sites that adds beauty and panache to the rain forest environment.

Notable among them include National Park, Marina Resort, Slave Museum, Ebom Lake, Nkarasi Monoliths, Agbokim Water falls, Canopy Walk Way and then Obudu Ranch Resort as well as the green lawns and canopy trees that dot the Canaan City of Calabar.

All year round, Cross River engages in all forms of entertainments, cultural festivals such as Leboku New Yam festival and is rounded off with Calabar Festivals and International Street party, Carnival Calabar.

And committed to restoring the glory of Calabar on world tourism calendar, Governor Bassey Otu hosted the world to 2023 International Calabar Carnival, that was hitherto dying down in the last administration.

Besides, Otu re-organised the tourism sector by appointing personnel with cognate experience in the industry with a mandate to rejig and revive all moribund tourism sites, seek partnership with private sector and then make the city an entertainment hub within the south-south geopolitical zone.

In the light of the above, the Tourism Bureau manned by Mr Ojoi Ekpenyong, the Managing Director, have taken up the gauntlet as it has signed an agreement with Blake Resort to build a world class entertainment centre worth about N2bn at Tortuga Island, Marina, Calabar. Similar places to Tortuga Island abound in Lagos including La Manga Resort, Ilashe, Casa Ilashe, Hermitage Garden Resort and Epe Reosrt and Spa.

Tortuga Island is one of Calabar's hidden gems located in beautiful landscaped gardens in Marina Resort. The Island covers three popular plantation-style bars overlooking the nearby Calabar River and bounded by Navy Yard, making it a very safe location.

It has beautiful features that can offer a perfect place to relax and unwind after a day of sight-seeing and enjoying all that Old Calabar has to offer. The famed Tortuga Island is a sit-out inside the resort.

It is a place relax and have a a drinking or a cocktail while watching the sunset and then enjoying a delightful dinner of barbecued meat. You can order from a well-stocked bar and have expertly roasted fish alongside a few other things you would definitely enjoy.

The agreement to develop Tortuga Island was signed on Friday, January 27, 2024 at the Corporate office of Tourism Bureau in Calabar and was witnessed by the management team of the Tourism Bureau and a team from Blake Resort led by the Managing Director/CEO, Chief Uzochukwu Akunedozi and Ody Anumba, a director, Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation.

Speaking after the signing ceremony, the Managing Director, Tourism Bureau Mr Ojoi Ekpenyong, said: "Signing this agreement at this time is an addition because that center is going to create jobs. His Excellency, Governor Bassey Otu, have a people first mantra and this project will take about 200 people off the street by giving them employment.

"How will you talk about tourism without an entertainment center, Cross River State is known as a place where you come to live and be at peace with everything called nature, so make your money in wherever, come to Cross River State and spend your money, so the revenue is going to shut up because of this investment and employment is going to happen here and other people are going to enjoy Tortuga Island and make other business decisions.

"Most hotels that you see in Calabar today were decision that people made because of Carnival Calabar. So, more decisions will be made, employment will come, our revenue will go up and our people will be happy, these is why the investment is important to us."

Also speaking, the Special Adviser to the Governor on General Duties, Bar.Akiba Ekpenyong, said: "For me I must commend this development because it's another feather added to the mandate His Excellency gave to him in the tourism sector. I must say, the governor is committed to returning Cross River State to what it used to be as far as tourism is concern.

"I want to also commend our partners for the investment because I know it will be value added to Cross River State moving forward in this partnership. For us as a state, all that you're expecting from us in terms of creating a business friendly environment for your business to strive.

"We are sure under the leadership of Prince Bassey Otu everything will be done in that direction. I will not end without commending the management staff for their support and dedication to ensure that their principal succeed."

On his part, Blake Resort Managing Director/CEO, Chief Uzochukwu Akunedozi, said: "I am glad to be here. I'm excited because I feel privileged to be part of what Cross River state government is doing which is tourism and without an iota of doubt, Cross River State is number one tourist destination in West Africa.

"Blake Resort is meant for entertainment; it has hosted people across the globe and the testimonies are there to verify. We are here to add value to what is been done in Cross River State.

"Before we make offer to come into Cross River State, we saw a very beautiful provision which is Tortuga Island and having seen that we decided to make an input to build an entertainment center like no other in West Africa.

"We are giving in a one stop shop for entertainment. It's a spot that will accommodate the kids, the adults and the elderly, which will extend not just on the island but on the water ranging from boat cruise, water cycling etc.

"What pushed me to invest in this state is beyond the passion of the MD Tourism Bureau, but the urgency to get things done, his motivation force is a great motivation for me. I'm in a hurry to deliver and I'm in a hurry to do more than I have said. Our duty is to exceed your expectations.

"We are looking at an initial investment of N2 billion that could be expanded. We are looking at between now and October we should be hitting the ground running. We are bringing in a very fine dinning restaurant, we have a lounge, a pool, water-slides and gaming center for kids and lots more.

"Then going down the water, boat cruise, there 'll be floaters that can contain 50 to 60 people who wish to celebrate their birthdays on the water, it's a full package. If you want to make an investment in tourism in Nigeria, your first choice should be Calabar."

By Ndifreke Bassey, The Beagle News