By; PATRICK TITUS, Uyo
Akwa Ibom Christmas Village 2020 in Uyo will provide more golden opportunities for small and medium scale business entrepreneurs to venture in and maximize profits through trade and services.
Unlike the 2019 edition of the celebration where 4.5 hectares of land mass was allocated for the village with over 1.6m people visited, 11 hectares of land has been allocated by the state government for the construction of this year’s Christmas Village.
Accordingly, no fewer than 800 kiosks, an increase from last year, will be provided at the Village this year to give more opportunities for people to own space and make money at the Village which will open from December 1, 2020 to January 1, 2020. Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Orman Esin made the disclosure at Ibom Hotel and Golf Resort, Uyo during the unveiling of this year’s Christmas activities in the state on Saturday.
Mr. Esin said that the state government was passionate about improving on its tourism potentials and marketing Akwa Ibom for investors, hence will use the 2020 Christmas Festival to consolidate on the economic and commercial gains of the 2019 edition which was adjudged the biggest in the country.
According to him, last year’s festival provided jobs for no fewer than 2,450 people at the Christmas Village who had the ample opportunity to make money for themselves and boost the local economy.
Esin disclosed that the net income generated by kiosk owners and other businesses was put at about N2.5billion within 30 days of the jamboree.
”The Christmas Festival added to the economic strength of the state within the period. By January people were able to pay school fees, pay house rent and do all manner of things. I know of three persons who showed to me what they were able to achieve from the Christmas Village.
”I believe that the activities at the Christmas village are not just about entertainment and popularity but also to ensure that people are gainfully employed within the period to enable them live well”, the Commissioner said.
On the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr. Esin said that the state government has taken note of the current realities globally, therefore the 2020 Christmas Festival especially activities at the Christmas Village will be done with strict adherence to the Covid-19 safety protocols.
Accordingly, he said the 11 hectares of land allocated by the state government for the construction of this year’s Christmas Village as against 4.5 hectares in 2019 is done to avoid overcrowding and ensure social distancing.
The Commmissioner mentioned that other Covid-19 safety measures have been put in place such as less activities, spacing of stages, water and hand washing as well as aggressive testing of visitors to the Christmas Village.
”So the State Executive Council has approved that the 2020 Christmas festival should hold but with strict observance of the Covid-19 safety protocols.
”For the 31 days we will have everyone who comes to the Christmas village fully masked. In line with with NCDC guidelines, facemask will be compulsory, the kiosks, stages and stalls will be spaced and hand sanitizers provided at various places. Strict hygiene will be the order of the day”, he stated.
The Commmissioner however said the event is open to partnership with the private sector and multinational companies, adding that there will be advertising and branding opportunities.
On security, the Commissioner disclosed that security intelligence and checks would be intensified at the Christmas Village and its surroundings to forestall criminal activities.