By Isaiah Eka
Mr Orman Esin, the Commissioner for Culture and Tourism in Akwa Ibom, has said that N2.5 billion was generated in 2019 by kiosk owners and other businesses at Christmas village within 30 days of the jamboree.
Esin said this at a news conference to mark the beginning of the 2020 Christmas jamboree in Uyo on Saturday.
The commissioner said that 2019 festival provided jobs for no fewer than 2,450 people at the Christmas village.
He said that those engaged had the ample opportunity to make money for themselves and boost the local economy.
”The Christmas festival added to the economic strength of the state within the period.
“By January people were able to pay school fees, pay house rent and do all manner of things.
“I know of three persons who showed to me what they were able to achieve from the Christmas village.
”I believe that the activities at the Christmas village are not just about entertainment and popularity but also to ensure that people are gainfully employed within the period to enable them to live well,” Esin said.
He said that the state government had approved that the 2020 Christmas festival activities would be done with strict adherence to the COVID-19 safety protocols.
According to him, in order to avoid overcrowding and maintain social distancing, government has allocated 11 hectares of land for the construction of the 2020 Christmas village as against 4.5 hectares in 2019.
”So the State Executive Council has approved that the 2020 Christmas festival should hold, but with strict observance of the COVID-19 safety protocols.
”For the 31 days we will have every one who comes to the Christmas village fully masked.
“In line with NCDC guidelines facemask will be compulsory; the kiosks, stages and stalls will be spaced and hand sanitisers provided at various places.
“Strict hygiene will be the order of the day,” he said.
Esin said that other COVID-19 safety measures had been put in place such as less activities, spacing of stages, hand washing and aggressive testing of visitors to the Christmas village.
The commissioner said that the event was open to partnership with the private sector and multinational oil companies, adding that there would be advertising and branding opportunities.
He said that the state was passionate about improving on its tourism potential hence would use the 2020 Christmas festival to consolidate on the economic and commercial gains of the 2019 edition which was adjudged the biggest in the country.
Esin assured the people that adequate security arrangements would be put in place within the Christmas village and its surroundings to ensure protection of life and property. (NAN)