Tabufor Mercy Akwa, North West Regional Delegate of Tourism and Leisure.
How is the leisure and tourism sector faring presently in the North West Region, following the socio-political tensions?
By leisure attractions, we are referring to night clubs, restaurants, snack bars, amusement parks, grills and the likes. Inasmuch as this crisis which began in November 2016 has impacted negatively on the leisure sector, this does not imply that the leisure sector is dead in the region. We still have night clubs which are functioning during the normal days when they use to function. Most function from Thursday to Sunday. The most interesting situation now in the North West Region is bar dancing. It is attracting many customers and its bringing in quite some income.
Is that how you would have loved it to be?
It is not how we would have loved it to be. But the sector is on and thriving but not at our expected pace.
What do you make of the security dispositions taken by the State?
Presently, we have more regular patrols in the night and we have security forces stationed at various check points. I want to think that this helps the people to feel safe. If people are able to go out at night for leisure, it is because they feel safe. And so, many people have made a storm in a teacup about the insecurity in the North West. It is true. I can say without fear of contradiction that no tourist has ever reported harassment in the North West Region as a result of the crisis. We don’t have any such report. The situation is not bad because the northwesterner is a hospitable person and very receptive. The northwesterner by his very nature is welcoming.
Have you been putting an eye on the informal sector?
The Ministry of Tourism and Leisure is the supervisory authority of all leisure and tourism establishments. This means that we actually control and inspect these establishments on their activities. The establishments are expected to report on their activities. Those that do not meet the required norms face the sanctions that are provided for by the rules and regulations in force. We are aware some establishments promote prostitution and sex tourism, but we are not going to help them in their trade even if what they do is a source of income and boost the leisure and tourism sector.
Can we have an idea of the number of hotel facilities in the region?
There are over 120 hotels operating in the North West Region. A good number of them are not registered and operate clandestinely. Of those which are registered, we have: eight 3-star hotels, six 2-star hotels and the rest are 1-star hotels. We have some 15 restaurants. Some of the hotels incorporate a night club, a restaurant and other leisure facilities.