According to a recent statement by the Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, UNCTAD, Mr. Supachai Panitchpakdi, at the close of this decade, half of the world’s 48 Least Developed Countries (LDCs) will potentially cash in on the tourism sector as their principal source of export earnings.
At one of the sessions of the Fourth United Nations Least Developed Countries Conference entitled, “Promoting Tourism for Sustainable Development and Poverty Reduction and Decent Work”, held recently in Istanbul, Turkey, Supachai highlighted the ability of the tourism sector to stimulate economy-wide growth through linkages with other sectors, notably agriculture and construction. The Istanbul conference also disclosed that over the last few decades, tourism has become a major contributor to developing countries’ growth and development.
Benefits, he noted, also arise from stable incomes generated through employment in the tourist industry and from “spillover” effects elsewhere in LDC economies, such as in transport services, handicrafts, hotels, restaurants, and small-scale tourism enterprises.
Although Nigeria may not be categorised as the least developed country, the assertion of the UNCTAD’s boss is no doubt instructive when viewed against the background of the country’s tourism potential.
For the least developed countries, which Nigeria may be exempted, tourism accounts currently for approximately 9 per cent of goods and services exports and 65 per cent of commercial services exports. In 22 LDCs, international tourism is among the top three foreign-exchange earners.
Over the last few decades, tourism has become a major contributor to developing countries’ growth and development. This, however, is not the case for the LDCs where tourism currently accounts for approximately 9 per cent of goods and services exports and 65 per cent of commercial services exports. It is against this backdrop that the efforts by the Cross River State to reposition the Obudu Ranch Resort as a vital engine of economic growth and development in the country should be commended.
Located on a plateau of about 1,576 metres above sea level at Obanliku Local Government Area in northern Cross River State, the Obudu Cattle Ranch, as it was formerly known, was established in 1949 by Mr. McCaughley, a Scottish rancher who camped on the mountaintop for a month before returning with his fellow rancher, Mr. Hugh Jones, who in 1951, together with Dr. Crawfeild developed the ranch.
With about 332kilometres from Calabar, it’s a four-hour drive by road and about one and a half hour from Ogoja. Boasting temperate climate-equivalence of regions of Europe, the Obudu Mountain Resort which temperature ranges from 26°C to 32°C between November and January, and the lowest from four°C to 10°C between June and September has become a paradise of some sort to holidaymakers and fun seekers.
Cognisant that the state is not industrialised nor endowed with oil resources, the government of Cross River State has endeavoured to turn its fortunes around through the exploitation of its tourism assets with the Obudu Ranch Resort as the jewel of its tourism asset. And given its scenic ambience, lush vegetation temperate climate, the resort offers a clean, green, quiet and safe getaway from the maddening and bustling ambience of Calabar.
While the Ranch Resort may have played host to the country’s former leaders in the past, its recent patronage, at two separate intervals, by President Goodluck Jonathan and his Sierra Leonian counterpart, Ernest Bai Koroma, highlights expressively its potential as a congenial place salutary for retreat not only for top government functionaries but also for those who value relaxation.
If anything, the visit to the Ranch comes as a bold attestation it is indeed a place of national pride, and indeed a rendezvous to showcase to the world nature’s holidaying spot, a sanctuary where world leaders converge.
That being said, it is worth restating that the resort would not have been found hospitable, much else patronising without the commitment of the state governor, Senator Liyel Imoke, with so much investment gone.
If previous administrations in the state needed a seal of endorsement to pay more than a passing attention and promote the Ranch Resort, the State’s tourism bureau got it with the visit of Presidents Jonathan and Bai Koroma recently.
Lauding the turn around the ranch has enjoyed in recent times, the state’s Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Patrick Ugbe, reportedly described the ranch as “a beautiful place and wonderful place to behold,” adding that the President’s decision to hold a retreat there was “an endorsement of Cross River State as a holiday destination and it was a wonderful thing for him and his wife to stay there for a week”.
Just as the road to heaven is said to be crooked and narrow, with many not privileged to enter it, same can be said of the road to the Obudu Ranch Resort, among other desideratum necessary to conduce for exotic holidaying. The challenges of the Ranch Resort include, but not limited to poor road network as tourists toil for about five hours on road while travelling from Calabar as well as lack electricity from the national grid. Currently, electricity is powered from generators to operate all the facilities daily.
Having savoured the exotic splendour of what the Ranch beholds, this is hoping that the President’s visit would help address the seeming abject road to the Ranch.
If the visit of Presidents Jonathan and Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone is any leverage, there is every need for the Federal Government to lend its support to state government’s determination to reduce its reliance on allocations from the federation account by rehabilitating the access roads to the ranch, with properly built roads. This way, it would attract a greater number of patronage from home and abroad, as the utilisation of the ranch will also go a long way to boosting patronage once some of the facilities are put in place.
But if Jonathan’s retreat at the ranch is anything to go by, then a ray of hope may appear on the horizon, as he has assured, during his visit, to address these issues. Going by the UNCTAD projection, which forecasts that half of the world’s 48 least developed countries will potentially reap from the tourism sector as their principal source of export earnings, the development Obudu Ranch Resort cannot be left to the state alone.
This is where the Federal Government and other private sector’s input are desperately required to fast-track the developmental objective of the state government for the resort. Tourism is contributing significantly to economic growth of other countries, Nigeria, cannot be an exception.
Click here to see images and read more about Obudu Mountain Resort, Cross River State
Writte By: Sylvester Imoni