Akwa Ibom government has said that it would use its new airline, Ibom Air as vehicle to promote and grow tourism in the state.
This was disclosed by the state Commissioner of Information; Charles Udoh who said the state has a lot of tourism potential by its location, culture and development.
Udoh said this plan would be galvanized by the newly appointed to take care of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, stressing that creating the needed synergy to develop the tourism potential of the state would be easily achieved.
Udoh acknowledged that by her geographical location, Akwa Ibom State is an end point, which must attract visitors, as people rarely pass in transit.
Explaining that tourism flies on the wings of aviation, the Commissioner said, “The rising economic and tourism strength of Ethiopia, UAE, etc were driven largely by their airlines, which have massive government interest.
“For many governments around the world to be doing this, it means there are underlining strength in it and Akwa Ibom will also ensure that this avenue is explored maximally.”
He added that there are plans on ground to grow Ibom Air to deepen the Uyo hub as two additional aircraft were expected to be added to make a fleet of five.
When this is done, the Commissioner said the management of the airline would Then we will look at the West Coast routes, like Libreville, Sao Tome and Principe, Equatorial Guinea etc.
He expressed the belief that many travellers who do business and travel along these routes would always come to Uyo to shorten their trips, adding that tourism could equally flourish with such influx.
He also disclosed that the state government has plans to create more activities and programmes that would attract people into the state.
He explained that the reason this government is aggressively pursuing the second runway of the Victor Attah International Airport is to build a hub for the West and Central African destination in addition to the maintenance hangar, which when completed would attract more aircraft to the airport.
The aim of developing the second runway with the main terminal building, is to start pushing to take over a lot of businesses driving traffic to Accra. This, according to the commissioner, “will eventually make Uyo the next aviation and tourism hub”.
The Commissioner also explained that the positive disruptions created by the entry of Ibom Air would equally attract passengers and tourists to the state.
“Ibom Air has come into the market with aircraft that are at most six years old thereby setting the standard in terms of age and quality of aircraft in Nigeria. Aaircraft in Ibom Air fleet are newer and smaller. They carry at most 90 passengers. Break-even point is lower and consumes less fuel.
“Another area of our aviation challenge is timeliness. But with Ibom Air, business people, tourists and other travellers can plan their time, as flights always leave as scheduled. Ibom Air is indeed a game changer.” Udoh added.