Akwa Ibom State government has said that all hotels and tourism centres across the state would soon be certified with ‘Operational Permit’ in line with global standard and international best practices.

The permit would also assist the state to sustain its status as the best tourism destination point recently awarded to it by an international organisation.

Speaking to newsmen in Uyo, chairman, Akwa Ibom State Hotels Management And Tourism Board, Mr Ini Akpabio, said arrangements have been concluded with National Institute for Hospitality And Tourism for capacity building of staff working in hotels and tourism centres in the state before the operating license would be given to them.

“We have reached out to the federal government through the National Institute for Hospitality And Tourism, which is recognised for all hotel, catering and training in the whole country and they have agreed to partner with us. What we intend to do is to train all the people that work within the Hospitality and Tourism Industries in Akwa Ibom State.

“We will give them what we call ‘Operational Permit ‘. Operational Permit means that in the future, you cannot go to a bar and somebody serves you drink without Bar Attendant’s Permit. A Bar Attendant’s Permit means that you have been trained to be a Bar Man and you can serve customers properly. By doing this, we will increase even the service standard.”

Akpabio said that there is a very serious ‘service deficit’ in hotels operating in the state and assured tourists that such short fall would be closed down when the Operational Permit is implemented.

He said there are many loopholes to be checked in the tourism sector and applauded governor Udom Emmanuel and past governors in the state for laying a solid foundation for tourism to thrive in the state.

He listed good internal road network, Ibom Airline, and good security as facilitating agents for the success of tourism business in Akwa Ibom.

“It is not that we have succeeded 100 per cent but when you compare our state to other states in the country, you will agree with me that the level of security here is very high, which accounts for us being described as the destination point for tourists.”

Akpabio explained that the state Tourism Board has been in regular interaction with stakeholders in the industry to build a data platform for all tourism centres and hotel operators through documentation of all players in the industry as another means to put them on the right pedestal in their operations.

“We are going to put them on a digital platform to ensure that all the hotels and tourism centres are known to the government starting from this month,” he said.

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