Diversifying the cross river state economy through tourism: opportunities and challenges
Since the early 1970s, when revenue from oil became Nigeria’s major foreign exchange earner and contributor to gross domestic product (GDP), attention has shifted away from other sectors of the economy, especially agriculture and manufacturing, which were once the mainstay of the economy. As a result, all Nigerian states except Lagos have relegated the issue of internally generated revenue to the background, with the resultant effect being the inability of the states to meet their budgetary demands. However, given the peculiar problems associated with oil—its being subject to depletion, unfavourable quota arrangement, international price shocks and other internal problems, such as the inability to maintain effectively the existing refineries for optimal production, there have been agitations on the need to diversify the Nigerian economy, by moving to other sectors. Using descriptive method of analysis, the study proposes the adoption of tourism as a veritable tool for revenue generation and employment creation in Cross River State. The choice of tourism is predicated on the fact that it holds great potentials for actualising the objective of enhanced internally generated revenue (IGR). To achieve this, there is need to reposition the state tourism sector. Recommendations that would help in repositioning the sector for enhanced performance are given. They include among others, the need to scale up funds voted for tourism, need to synergise with the foremost tourism agencies in the country, coming up with a comprehensive compendium of the various tourism sites and attractions in the state, which should be widely publicised and use of state-of-the-art equipment and facilities at all tourism sites.
KEYWORDS: Cross River State, diversification, tourism, revenue generation, employment generation