From Tinapa to Summit Hills

Conceptualised to attract the much needed traffic to Tinapa Resort, Summit Hills is the next big thing to happen to tourism in Nigeria, writes Solomon Elusoji

Across the world, tourism is big business, some economies are built on it, and it barely fails to deliver substantial revenue. According to the World Tourism Organisation, 698 million people travelled to a foreign country at the turn of the century, "spending more than US$ 478 billion. International tourism receipts combined with passenger transport currently totalled more than US$ 575 billion, making tourism the world's number one export earner, ahead of automotive products, chemicals, petroleum and food."

Unsurprisingly, with a rich array of wildlife resorts, African countries like Kenya have been able to build complex economies based on the tourism sector. However, despite having the required resources and habitat to grow a bubbling tourism industry, Nigeria continues to underachieve, choosing to rely on the fickle oil market. Of course, that has affected the country's fortunes in recent times.

Meanwhile, the Cross River State remains the most enterprising state in the country, in terms of building an economy fuelled by tourism. Its Tinapa project remains one of the biggest projects of its kind on the continent, and with the rapid development ongoing at the Summit Hills, the state's solid reputation for world class tourism is well grounded and rooted, like an oak tree with expansive roots.

According to the Cross River Tourism website, Summit Hills is "an innovative and cohesive lifestyle development project that combines convention, recreation, arts and culture, housing and healthcare facilities, all within an exclusive and idyllic location bounding the Tinapa Business Resort and Calabar Free Trade Zone.

"The massive real estate project aligns with the vision of Cross River State's Governor, Liyel Imoke, to build an economic engine that creates jobs, increases economic potential, and builds on the strength of Cross River state."

The Summit Hills project, which sits on 367 hectares of real estate, is apparently designed to complement the massive Tinapa project. It is a residential resort that matches the best found in Europe and America. Now in the latter stages of construction, it is expected to be comparable in size to the Canary Wharf Business District in London or the Lower Manhattan District in New York City. Summit hill will also include a nature reserve for endangered species of monkey native to Cross River state, along with nature trails.

Launched in 2012, the project was rolled out gradually and executed in four phases. The first phase featured the construction of the main road, followed by the Calabar International Convention Centre and the CICC Hotel. The second stage was the development of the residential area and the hospital. The third phase will see the completion of the golf course, clubhouse, and additional residential areas. The fourth and final stage will be completion of the remaining residential area.

The entire landscape will be self-sufficient in terms of power generation, via a local power plant situated in the vicinity. The dedicated power plant will provide 24-hour power supply every facility within the development, including visitor and guests.

The projected golf course, which is designed to be every golfer's dream, is situated on the western side of the main access road. It will feature lush fairways, an extensive driving range and natural features that provide recreational opportunities for residents who wish to play close to their home as well as guests of the hotel and the CICC.

The clubhouse will offer a spectacular elevated view of the Calabar Channel and surrounding wetlands, and include amenities such as a cafe, restaurant, catering facilities, pro shop, changing facilities, private meeting and VIP rooms

The Summit Hill hospital, a 105 bed specialist facility, is being done as a public-private partnership between the state government and an international concessionaire, UCL Healthcare Services Limited, according to Imoke. The project alone is estimated to cost about US$ 40 million, with the government contributing a capital of N3.2 billion.

Imoke believes the hospital would enable the state achieve its drive, passion and commitment to providing first-class healthcare services to the people, and also to establish Calabar as the first choice destination for those seeking quality healthcare in the country and any part of the world, at a reduced cost.

"We are acutely aware of the immense importance of this project, which will not only transform the medical landscape of the state, but will also ultimately enlarge the profile of healthcare delivery in the region and country," Imoke said in 2013.

He added: "When completed, the Calabar Specialist Hospital will offer comprehensive services such as gynaecology, obstetrics, paediatrics, internal medicine, general surgery and orthopaedic, laboratory services, basic neology, as well as cardiology, with plans to include oncology in future.

"It is also to offer services in dermatology, urology, eye surgery, as well as advanced dental surgery. There will also be gatekeeper clinic offering primary health care services, which would be a referral mechanism for the specialist hospital."

A monorail using electric powered passenger shuttle trains composed of ten cars and a 78 total seating capacity will stretch from Summit Hills to the Tinapa Complex, to facilitate efficient transportation. The train will shuttle passengers between the CICC and the Tinapa Complex, allowing smooth access to Studio Tinapa, Tinapa Shopping Centre, and the Tinapa Water-park. With every of these facilities to be completed this year, Summit Hills is set for an influx of tourism, which will undoubtedly increase the revenue base of the Cross River State, in a period when oil revenue is on a downward turn.

The client representative of the Summit Hills Development Project, Nzan Ogbe, has noted that the project, driven by the Liyel Imoke-led government, was a 'child of necessity' aimed at easing the pains of the struggling Tinapa venture.

According to him: "We came in as an administration in 2007 and struggled quite a bit with trying to crack the Tinapa debacle, because some of the things that should have been in place were not in place at the time. It was no fault of the state, as the legislation to back the Tinapa development had not been obtained, as well as a few other challenges.

"So, we chased that for a while, and at the end of it, we noticed that there was inertia. Because, after one year and a half, people who had shown interest in coming to be stakeholders and run businesses had lost interest. So, what we needed to do was create a steady flow of traffic, because that is the only challenge that Tinapa has, as you can see the infrastructure is in place." So, the objective of creating a 'steady flow of traffic' led to the idea of building a destination that could hold meetings, conferences, exhibitions in a relaxed environment. This birthed the idea of Summit Hills.

"We noticed that meetings, conferences, and exhibitions had become a niche area where Cross River seemed to attracting a lot of those," Ogbe said. "So, the concept of the conference centre came up, and as we searched for a location - of course it had to be close to Tinapa - the governor pinpointed the location, and we realised there was a lot of land around there." Although Liyel Imoke's tenure as governor ends shortly, one expects that the Summit Hills dream will become a legacy for generations yet unborn.

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By 9jatravel / Administrator, bbp_keymaster

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on Jun 01, 2015

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