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Considering the availability of abundant tourism sites in the country, the Cross River State Commissioner for Culture & Tourism Development, Mr Eric Anderson has called on Nigerians to be patriotic to the country, rather than encouraging capital flights out of the country in search of relaxation.

Mr Anderson gave the remark in an interview with journalists in his office in Calabar on Monday, January 24, 2022, where he encouraged Nigerians to visit spots such as the Obudu cattle ranch in Cross River State, resorts in Akwa Ibom State  or even undertaking visits to the mountains and deserts in northern Nigeria.

Focusing on the tourism plans of Cross River State for 2022, the Commissioner  said "this year, we do not intend to create any more tourism products, that is because as a state, we already have sufficient tourism products, structure, culture, contents and events as Cross River is already known as a destination. What we intend to do is to build on what we have, to keep them up and running, touch up our events, create attention for them and maintain world class standard which is why  Governor Ben Ayade is committed to building a new city dubbed Calas Vegas". 

Anderson said, "we are trying to build a new city across the water, to have a proper island; a beach, with beach houses, and fun spots. We have started with the tourism products, by acquiring four amphibious vehicles that drive on land and water as well.

"To enable us promote Calas Vegas Beach Resort, we also have a huge cabana that can sit about one thousand guests. This Valentine, we are hosting our first festival; the African Music Festival, to further market the brand Calas Vegas, we have registered a competing band for the Calabar Carnival, it's called Calas Vegas Band; these are all ideas of His Excellency, Senator Prof. Ben Ayade and we are trying to market it, to ensure that it comes to life for the benefit of Cross Riverians", Anderson revealed.

Having had the Calas Vegas in place, the Commissioner made it known that the first outing to be held there this year would be the Valentine Celebration tagged "Love is made in Calabar", where plans are underway to parade about 300 power bikes, float a restaurant on water and host an African Music concert on the island at Calas Vegas beach. 

"The day begins with the buffet at the floating restaurant at marina resort which runs all day, followed by the flag off of the bikers parade, ridding across the streets of Calabar, showing their stunts alongside an array of vintage cars, thereafter, we cross over to the island for the beach party. 

"To crown it up is The African Music Festival which would feature performances by top Nigerian entertainers; Ayrastar, Iyanya, Timaya, Duncan Mighty and Gordons. Also having our home based stars, Challex D Boss, Effiom Trombone (who is also Special Assistant to Governor of Cross River State on Entertainment) and lots more, not forgetting our very own Real P who is invited too", he said.

On accessibility to the event, the Tourism Commissioner said the event will not be totally free as there is going to be a fee while strict adherence to COVID protocol will be observed.

Speaking on why the Calabar carnival could not be held last December, 2021, the Commissioner revealed that "at some point, we were ready to host the carnival, at least to scale it down to a national level, but we had to call if off due to the outbreak of the omicron variant of COVID 19 late 2021, considering that most of our guests and visitors come from other countries who were still battling with COVID. 

"That not withstanding, to shoulder that effect, we still had the Arts & Craft Village at the Cultural Center, which was up and running with events for 32 days, we also had the Christmas Village too for 32 days at the Calabar municipal grounds. The private sector also contributed by hosting events to create entertainment for fun seekers in the state", said Eric Anderson.





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