Bayelsa State Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Dr. Iti Orugbani, says security and safety of tourists visiting the state would be his priority, adding that safety and security of visitors have always been considered as an indispensable condition for sustainable tourism development the world over.
According to him, “safety and security are vital to providing quality service delivery in tourism”, saying that more than any other economic activity, the success or failure of a tourism destination depends on being able to provide a safe and secure environment for visitors.
The commissioner said travel and tourism was not any more an activity of a narrow social stratum or class, but that it has become a whole widening middle class activity that is getting every body progressively involved in it.
He said the state governor, Senator Douye Diri, has accorded the culture and tourism sector serious attention with a promise to commit resources to develop it in order to make tourism a model economic sector that will perform the role of rebranding Bayelsa State as a safe and welcoming destination for visitors: creating opportunities for different levels of stakeholders and to further develop the sector in a thriving and profitable venture for both investors and stakeholders on one hand with government playing the role of regulators and enablers, on the other hand.
Dr. Orugbani, who gave the hint while playing host to Bayelsa State Travel Writers Corps, in his office in Yenagoa at the weekend, said since the travel and tourism industry could not avoid the negative impacts and consequences of insecurity, there was urgent need for concerted efforts from stakeholders to come up with preventive measures to mitigate possible negative incidents that could pose threats to tourists in the state, pointing out that “it is an incontestable fact that safety and security issues gained a much bigger importance in the last two decades in tourists locations around the globe in recent times due to conflicts, pandemics and natural disasters.
He maintained that “the changing roles, perceptions and concepts of safety and security in the age of mass tourism should be treated as important conditions for sustainable tourism development, reiterating that “it is on record that the Ancient Olympic Games were so important to the Greek Polises that all warfare was suspended for its duration.”
Earlier, Chairman of Bayelsa State Travel Writers’ Corps, Mr. Piriye Kiyaramo(Mr. Tourism), had briefed the commissioner of a planned tourism safety and security roundtable, with a view to stimulating sustainable quality nightlife in Yenagoa, the state capital.
According to Comrade Kiyaramo, issues of safety and security have become one of the major challenges that cause changes in the tourism market place, adding that the main concern of tourism safety and security issues focuses on crime prevention, food safety, health and mitigation of natural disasters.
He said the rapid and scenic development of transport (aviation, automotive industry) has also contributed to the rise of geographical mobility, pointing out that due to such changes, safety and security issues have gained bigger and bigger importance, pointing out as tourism has become one of the largest industries in the world’s economy, contributing to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), number of people employed in the sector and investments into the tourism industry, stakeholders have no option than to proffer solutions to challenges of insecurity.
The Travel Journalist, who described nightlife as an activity of great relevance for the tourism and hospitality sub-sector, especially in big cities and state capitals of countries with strong tourism offer, maintained that the level of security and safety in a tourism destination could be determined by the quality of its nightlife.
He informed the commissioner of the Travel Journalists’ intention to collaborate with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, stakeholders, security agencies and other relevant government departments to organise a tourism stakeholders’ roundtable to discuss tourists’ security and safety concerns in Bayelsa state, with a view to stimulating quality nightlife and to proffer lasting solutions to challenges of insecurity.
“Security concerns have impacted negatively a number of tourists’ destinations. Insecurities and safety could cause regional stagnation or decrease in tourist flows,” he added.