Why Rivers State Remains Tourists’ Destination

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Tourism is the fastest growing economic sector the  world over. With the ushering in of the present democratic dispensation in Rivers State, the government under the Executive Governor of the oil rich State, Rt. Hon. Chibuuike Rotimi Amaechi, the government is more committed to joining the committee of  nations in the area of tourism development. This is particularly pertinent for a country like ours that has depended for decades on the oil sector of its economy.
At the Vanguard of this initiative is  the  Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Dr Nnabuihe Nabbs Imegwu and the Dr Sam Dede led Rivers State Tourism Development Agency (RSTD) as the conduit pipe towards achieving culture and tourism rejuvenation in the state.
The society known as Rivers State with Port Harcourt as its capital, is made up of diverse ethnic groups and as a result, it is fairly easy for anyone to blend in. Port Harcourt city possesses a peculiar allure, a warmth and friendliness that draw people from every clime to its shores. Rivers people are exceptionally warm hearted and generous towards visitors. Their first priority is to make strangers feel comfortable and relaxed. Although it is often said that “there is no place like home”, many who came just to visit, or transact business or for sight seeing have made the state their own.
In the state, there are tourists’ destinations both natural and man made. They include: Solomon Lar Amusement Park, (man made), Isaac Boro Park Port Harcourt (man-made), Monument  of King Jaja of Opobo (monument), Okrika Aquatic Stadium (man-made), Ifoko Beach Ifoko (physical), Port Harcourt Tourist Beach (Physical) Ellah Lake (man-made), etc.
Others include: Elephants in Andoni local government area, The Famous “Oyoroko” Fish market in the same locality famous for its regulation to be The largest fish market in West Africa. The historic Island of Bonny also has some interesting relics from the past. It was a major slave port where slaves were shipped to Europe and America between the 16th and 19th centuries.
Furthermore the oldest church in West Africa, St. Stephen’s Anglican Church is still standing on the Island and inside this church is the first copy of the Holy Bible that was brought ashore by Christian missionaries. There is also an amazing place in Etche where the fresh water and salt water meet yet they do not meet, but go their separate ways.
The State has 23  local government areas and each possesses a unique identity of its own. As a result its heterogeneity, the state is culturally dynamic. Music and dance are central to Rivers culture.
The different cultural flavour emphasizes the uniqueness associated with the Rivers people. The main occupation of the people is fishing and farming. Although the state is composed of diverse cultural and ethnic groups, yet no where else can you experience such congeniality and harmony among a people.
Legend has it that because of the cleanliness of Port Harcourt, its beautiful topography and well planned layout of the old Port Harcourt township, it was christened the “Garden City” many years ago.
Over the years, this city had struggled to live up to its reputation. In some parts of this ancient city, you will still see the relics of its past glory, lush green vegetation, tall trees with their cascading branches, climbing vines, rich thick shrubbery and beautiful flowers glistening in the sun light. From the surrounding oceans and creeks blow soft ocean breeze which provides a cooling effect especially in the evenings. Port Harcourt is, undisputedly the home of excellent and unrivalled hospitality.
When it comes to accommodation in Port Harcourt and its environs, you are spoit for choice. The list of hotels are endless and they cater to every budget. Port Harcourt is an all round holiday and tourist destination. Most people think of Port Harcourt as just an oil city, but what they do not know is – that it is a place with an amazing food culture which is part of the tourists’ delight, shopping in the city is also a delight with one stop shopping location which means that you can find all you need in one spot.
Another aspect of the tourist attraction is the Port Harcourt night life. Night life in Port Harcourt has a heart beat of its own with something for every one as well as its festivals, particularly the CARNIRIV which traces its origin back to 1988 and by this inference, it is one of the oldest carnivals in Nigeria. The Rivers State annual carnival is acclaimed to be the largest carnival in terms of audience participation with 13 distinguishable brands under its umbrella namely: Carniriv praize jam, kids carnival, Carniriv colloquium, Dance of the Fire flies and Ekere, the rhythm of the tribes.
Others are Egelege, Champions of the Sand Arena, International Acquatic Fiesta, Hosh Jam, Bam Fest, old Port Harcourt town groove, International Heritage parade, Garden city Free style parade and world peace concert.
These events combined make the Rivers State Carnival an exotic blend of art and culture. The mind blowing cultural displays, spectacular acquatic performances and the mesmerizing dances performed so skillfully by expert dancers in response to the rhythm of the ancient drum beats bring the carnival to a new threshhold.
There is also potential for ecotourism because the state is endowed with substantial regions of the tropical rain forest which is the habitat of some rare animal species. Every tourist to the state is sure to have an experience that is guaranteed to last a life time.
Additional report from RSTDA (Discover Rivers).

Rivers State Governor, Rt. Hon Chibuike Amaechi and his Deputy, Engr. Tele Ikuru
Rivers State Governor, Rt. Hon Chibuike Amaechi and his Deputy, Engr. Tele Ikuru