First Bank Nigeria Limited says its support for cultural renaissance is the rationale behind the massive investments being ploughed into the country’s growing tourism sector.As a result, the bank said it had partnered with the Cross Rivers State Government in the implementation of the Calabar Carnival, Africa’s largest street party, from inception till date.
This partnership, according to a statement by the bank, has provided a veritable platform to bring happiness and excitement to Nigerians.
For quite some time, stakeholders have emphasised the need for further private sector participation in the development of a vibrant and competitive tourism sector.
This is in view of the sector’s revenue generation potential.
The statement quoted the Executive Director, Public Sector Group, First Bank, U.K. Eke, as reiterating the bank’s plan to remain a promoter of culture and heritage, having come through a rich heritage of almost 120 years.
“The Calabar Carnival is a platform for showcasing rich Nigerian heritage and we are proud of our longstanding association with the annual festivities,” he said.
He applauded the commitment of the Cross River State government in sustaining the carnival initiative over the past few years.
Eke pointed out that the bank had consistently supported the carnival as part of its drive and resolve to align with initiatives aimed at diversifying the nation’s revenue base through tourism.
“Cross River State is, creditably, a desirable destination for tourists, businessmen and investors,” he added.
He said the Calabar Carnival had yielded immense “returns in tourism, foreign investment and economic development to the people of the state in particular and the Nigerian economy in general.”
The statement further quoted the state Deputy Governor, Efiok Cobham, as pointing out that the impact of the carnival on the state was tremendous.
“From the economic perspective, the carnival is a revenue driver. From the tourist’s perspective, CRS has witnessed a large turnout of people in and outside the country participating in the carnival. The carnival attracts over 100,000 costumes and a million local and global spectators,” he said.
He described the carnival as a unique visual display of innovation and creativity, featuring cultural influences and traditions from the past and present in costumes, drama, dance and music.
The carnival was attended by top Nigerian musicians, Nollywood actors/actresses, politicians and global artistes.
According to the statement, officers and men of the Nigeria Police Force and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps provided security coverage for participants during the 13-kilometre walk around major streets in Calabar.