The Chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Bayelsa State Council, Comrade Samuel Numonengi has decried poor information dissemination as the bane of tourism development in the Niger Delta Region.
Comrade Numonengi made the remark while inaugurating a15-man Visitor Information Centre Management Committee, named after veteran journalist and nationalist, late Ernest Sese Ikoli at the Ernest Ikoli Press Centre, Azikoro Road in Yenagoa.
He said the public perception of the region which is based on hearsay is detrimental to the socio-economic development of the region, stressing that it is high time our people began to give their own narrative of the story to correct the earlier misrepresentations about the region.
Comrade Numonengi who also described the absence of proper documentation of the rich cultural heritage of the Ijaws as a huge challenge in promoting our tourism potentials, noted that millions of jobs and businesses are dependent on a strong and thriving tourism sector and that tourism has been a driving force in protecting natural and cultural heritage, preserving them for future generations to enjoy
He said Visitor Information Centres (VICs), otherwise known as “Tourist Information Centres or Welcome Centres, are primarily established to provide travelers with helpful information to improve their stay in the particular destination visited.
Comrade Numonengi said the Ernest Ikoli Visitor Information Centre Management Committee is expected to provide a friendly and welcoming environment for visitors who are visiting the state for the first time to have vital information about tourism products and services, as well as provide travel advice or guide for such tourists.
He explained that members of the management committee of Ernest Ikoli Visitor Information Centre who were carefully selected are expected to embark on tourism promotional activities by way of marketing local tourism products and services to create direct impact on the local economy with a view to enhancing the recreational well‐being of both residents and visitors.
According Comrade Numonengi, the initiative is part of Bayelsa State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists to compliment the socio-economic development efforts of the prosperity administration under Senator Douye Diri.
The Ernest Ikoli Visitor Information Centre Management Committee has chairman of Travel Writers Corps of Nigeria Union of Journalists, Bayelsa State Council, Comrade Piriye Kiyaramo as Director General, while Secretary of the State Council of the NUJ, Comrade Ogio Ipigansi is to serve as Secretary.
Other members include: Former state chairman of the union, Comrade Tarinyo Akono, former state secretary, Comrade Stanley Imgbi, Coordinator òf International Institute ofJournalism (IIJ), Yenagoa Study Centre, Roland Elekele and Business Manager of Silverbird FM Oxbow Lake Swali-Yenagoa, Oyins Egrebindo
Also appointed are: General Manager Peoples’ FM, Oxbow-Lake, Lawson Heyford, General Manager of Royal FM, Agudama, Tudor Ayah, Acting General Manager of Bayelsa Broadcasting Corporation, Terence Ekiseh, Mr. Tonye Yemoleigha (Radio Bayelsa), Mr. Fiezibe Osain (Ministry of Information), Mr. Agidee Theophilus (Africa Independent Television), Editor-in-Chief of New Waves, Peace Sinclair, former National Ex-officio of NAWOJ, Beatrice Sikpi and former Zonal Vice President of National Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Mrs Timi Idoko.
Responding, Director-General of the Ernest Ikoli Visitor Information Centre, Comrade Piriye Kiyaramo, who also doubles as chairman, Travel Writers Corps of the NUJ, thanked the leadership of the state council for finding him and other members worthy to serve, just as he promised to deliver on the mandate given to them.
It will be recalled that a destination visitor information centre, sometimes referred to as a “welcome centre” provides a one-stop, physical location from which travelers can connect to local businesses and services.
In addition, the visitor information centre is expected to provide a space to generate revenue through the sale of merchandise and local handicrafts as well as capture and analyze important traveler information and statistics for planning purposes.