The spotlight has continued to beam on Calas Vegas, a project by Ben Ayade, governor of Cross River, despite the “$450 million investment” setback by Tinapa, another tourism facility in the state.
The project, located at the Twin Island in Calabar, the state capital, will become the luxury destination for Nigerians who prefer to travel abroad for tourism, according to the governor.
“We’re building a fine, classy place. Instead of you to go overseas for holiday, you have Calas Vegas in Calabar to come and spend your holiday,” Ayade said during one of his visits to the project’s site.
The governor also said that the resort, when completed, “can only be accessed by water or air,” adding that the measure was done “on purpose so that we can control traffic.”
In a recent video, Elizabeth Dakwan, special assistant to Ayade on Calas Vegas, said the project, which is a work in progress, was part of the governor’s vision to build one of the most sought-after exotic resorts across the world.
“His vision for this project is to build an exotic island in class and style to world standard in comparison to a few exotic islands across the world. The likes in Indonesia, Dubai, Greece, Mexico,” she said.
Calas Vegas, Dakwan explained, will “be a complete gold city” and will house several unique facilities to cater for the “elites” — which happen to be its target.
“It’s going to be a complete gold city which will be housing a town square, sports and club house, a hotel, the governor’s mansion, a club house, golf court, parks, water-front villa, public entertainment zone for music, performing art centres, conference and food, fun park and water ways,” she added.
But there have been concerns over the project’s success in the long run after completion. This is due to the setback of Tinapa, a similar business and leisure resort, earlier initiated in the state.
The project, initiated by Donald Duke, a former governor, in 2007, and sustained by Liyel Imoke, his successor, was valued at $450 million, according to a CNN report in 2010.
Like Ayade’s Calas Vegas, Tinapa was also touted to boost business and tourism in the state. It has a shopping centre, film studio, hotel and water parks.
But the multi-million dollar project failed to bridge expectations — three years after its completion, according to the report.
“It was supposed to jump-start the economy of south eastern Nigeria and its impact expected to be felt across Africa. But three years after completion, it stands virtually empty…for now, the Tinapa dream looks like a nightmare,” the report said.
According to a 2007 report by Reuters, the project was originally set to be launched in 2006 but faced several challenges including “construction delays and bureaucracy.”
Imoke had attributed the project’s setback to dearth of sufficient collaboration between government and private investors.
“We believe that facilities like this should not only be managed by the government. We are not the best managers. So to that extent, we’re going to work towards bringing in private investors not only to operate but also to invest,” he had said.