Daily Champion (Lagos)

12 March 2010

Nigeria: Tinapa - Cross River's Gift to Tourism

Lagos — WHEN Tinapa was conceived some ten years ago by the immediate past government of Cross River State under Governor Donald Duke, it was with a view to engendering a business / leisure paradise, a world-class integrated business and leisure resort located in Calabar, South Eastern Nigeria.

This facility was intended to integrate strategically and functionally with the Calabar River, Calabar Free Trade Zone (Nigeria's premier Free Trade Zone) as well as the Obudu Cattle Ranch now renamed the Obudu Mountain Resort.

Tinapa was conceived to challenge the status quo which believes that business must be separated from pleasure. It hoped to do so by offering a rich harvest of possibilities to the discerning investor, wholesale/retail trader, price/quality sensitive shopper, as well as leisure seeker.

However, years later, it appeared the cold hands of project abandonment that has been the bane of Nigeria's infrastructural development, had touched the expansive facility as the project suffered from domestic neglect arising largely from bureaucratic bottlenecks that manifested itself by way of uncoordinated policy framework under which the project was supposed to be run.

Through a deft optimization of its scenic location in Nigeria's paradise city of Calabar, world class facilities for business and leisure, as well as a regime of irresistible incentives, Tinapa meant to offer the perfect opportunity to significantly reduce the perceived risk of expanding into the extremely lucrative emerging African market.

This market, which has Nigeria as nucleus, is defined by a robust size of population and growing spending power. It was also a market characterized by poor public governance, a high political and social risk culminating in poor investor comfort. It was the risk and poor comfort factor that Tinapa hoped to undermine.

When corruption allegations over Tinapa - related transactions and contract awards began to make the rounds in the twilight of the conceiving political administration, the public mood (on) Tinapa became one of expanded pessimism. From a diet of alleged scams came defaults in the commissioning of vital legs of the multi - faceted project.

It is therefore against this backdrop that the news filtering through from Tinapa is indeed heart - warming. Recent visitors to the resort confirm that vital infrastructure is already in place and (is) fully functional. This relates to facilities for both business and leisure alike.

The degree of progress is such that Tinapa is fast becoming the preferred destination and venue for corporate events and activities involving the business community and political class. These groups have made early discovery of the enabling serenity and world facilities which Tinapa flaunts. Indeed the resort has attained a 90 per cent overall readiness state in all infrastructure and facilities. Nearly all its facilities are up and running at the world class standards envisaged by the author(s) of the project.

Occupying an expansive 265 hectares of land, the Tinapa Free Trade Zone and Resort not only guarantees delivery of all the basic Free Zone incentives but offers a complete tax holiday from all Federal, State and Local Government taxes, rates, customs duties and levies. It allows one - stop approvals for all permits, operating licenses, and incorporation papers.

There is duty - free importation of capital goods, consumer goods, machinery, equipment, shop fit - out as well as permission to sell 100 per cent of assembled goods into the domestic market. It allows 100% foreign ownership of investments and 100 per cent repatriation of capital, profits and dividends. There are expatriate quota waivers for all companies operating in Tinapa.

To ensure that a regime of labor laws prevails which complements other structures put in place to ensure unhindered productivity and commerce, strikes and lockouts are prohibited outright whereas business owners can enjoy free rent for up to one year.

The outstanding incentive regime offered by the Free Trade Zone alongside the strategic location of Calabar on the West African coast and proximity to Central Africa provides direct access to a market of about 300million brand hungry people with increasing disposable income and a willingness to spend it. Investors will exploit the existing frustrated demand for quality goods and services which have seen both locals and expatriates within this region seek alternative market destinations abroad.

As a leisure infrastructure, the Tinapa Shopping Centre comprises 54 quality retail outlets and four huge emporia, each has a floor space of about 10,000 square meters. The Centre presents with a staggering bouquet of products; a vast array of world class brands ranging from designer labels, perfumes, electronics, fabrics, jewelry, household furniture and accessories, and even art and craft souvenirs.

Given its status as a Free Trade Zone, no customs duties are applied on imports into the Zone. Therefore, prices of goods sold within the Zone are the lowest in Nigeria.

Tinapa's concept of an adroit mix of business and leisure experience finds expression in state - of - the - art entertainment and relaxation facilities all of which are fully ready to play host to patrons. They comprise a five - star hotel, Amber Tinapa Hotel; Studio Tinapa; The Arcade and a Waterpark.

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