Cross River State Governor, Bassey Otu who declared the event open as well as unveiled the Carnival Calabar & Festival theme for 2023 as Season of Sweetness said the Akwaaba event has shaped hospitality, travel, tourism in Nigeria
Speaking on the upcoming Carnival, Governor Otu said that not only is the Calabar Carnival not just a huge street party but it is a cultural interface that has become the pull factor to bring tourists to Cross River State and Nigeria every year.
While making the pronouncement he expressed joy to be part of the unbroken staging and exhibition of the 19th Africa Travel Market Event stressing its importance to the tourism and travel trade players.
Speaking further on the Calabar Carnival Otu said,”Carnival Calabar, Africa’s Biggest Street Party has always led the cultural interface and ties with other such great cultural and artistic brands that have evolved distinct identities as Nigeria’s best foot forward in cultural diplomacy and at the same time acting as the pull factor to bring tourists to Cross River State and Nigeria every year.
According to the Governor, Carnival Calabar represents the most tangible tourism product in the calendar of events of Cross River State and in Nigeria in general.
“It was and still is a strategic plan for the actualization of the vision of transforming Cross River State sociology-economically through the instrumentality of the performing arts.”
“The carnival exhibits rare colours, costumes, floats, pyrotechnics, magic, acrobatics, etc. through the 12 kilometre carnival route.” He said.
Also speaking at the event-long time supporter of the Akwaaba Travel Market, Senator Ita Giwa gave kudos to the organiser, Ambassador Ikechi Uko commending his relentlessness in organising the program annually and bringing together tourism practitioners from far and wide.
Highlights of the opening ceremony were the cultural stage dance at the lobby by the Cross River dance troupe, the giant black and Albino gorillas dance and the Jollof Rice War.