The Director-General of Rivers State Tourism Development Agency, Yibo Koko, said the State, in partnership with the Dubai Tourism for Commerce and Marketing, has organised a competition to boost economic developments in the State and Niger Delta Region.
Koko said the competition is geared towards encouraging Rivers people to domesticate tourism for the economic growth of the state.
Meantime, three Rivers State indigenous artists have won the award competition to travel to Dubai to showcase their talents for the purpose of economic achievement for themselves and the state.
The three beneficiaries, Dumbor Debeeh, Oscar Taribo Tamgba and Samuel Nwankwo were selected based on their performance during the 2020 graffiti/graphic arts competition held in the state.
Speaking at the unveiling and presentation of winners of the Tourism award in Port Harcourt, Yibo Koko said the agency is determined to make the tourism space lucrative.
“Our job is to make the international community see the impact of our traditional art. When I came on board, I noticed that Rivers state alone has done more than 252 events by the citizenry and few of them have attracted the interest of the international community.
“As DG, we brought in consultants to work in the tourism space and make it lucrative. Is still our tangible idea and that is why we went further to think that the community people should domesticate tourism, to making the people understand what tourism is in the first place.”
Koko informed that “2021 in the United Nation’s year of the creative economy for sustainable development or the African Union year for art, culture and Tourism. Now, Rivers State is in the middle of all of these because we have an International Airport to ourselves, we have the local Airport, we have the seaports; that means that we can grow this tourism economy.”
Also speaking at the event, Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Mrs Tonye Briggs Oniyide, congratulated Koko for his effort in developing RSTDA.
She revealed that the winners will have full sponsorship for the trip, commending the Director of International Operations, Dubai Tourism and Commerce Marketing, Stella Fubara-Obinwa for her commitment in the development of culture and tourism in the state.
“Our sons who won will have a full sponsorship trip to Dubai, they have given them return tickets and all expenses paid to Dubai. While they are there they are going to learn more and bring back the experiences to Rivers state.
“We have a lot of things to do, our prayer is that the coronavirus should stop because there are various ways to showcase tourism in Rivers state and best ways of showcasing the talents we have in this state, a lot of our children are talented.
“Let me congratulate the DG of Rivers State Tourism Development Agency, Yibo Koko, for his effort to developing this sector. I am aware of his many efforts and I thank him for working closely with the Ministry.
‘I want to encourage and appreciate our partners, Dubai tourism in a unique way. Thanks for having us in your budget and in all your programmes over there. This is not the first time you have approached Rivers state in particular to partner with you.”
Mrs Oniyide disclosed further, “We were supposed to be in Paris last year they cancelled it because of COVID-19 and rescheduled it for May this year. We just pray that COVID-19 should definitely go so that we can showcase all the good things we have in Rivers state as the regard the Tourism sector.”
Presenting the traveling awards to the winners, the Secretary to the State Government, Tammy Danagogo, represented by the Permanent Secretary, Dr George C. Nwaeke, noted that Rivers is an important place in the cultural and economy of the country.
Danagogo regretted that in the pandemic, a lot of activities were dropped, adding that the Rivers State Tourism and Development Agency has done well.
“The pandemic has given us an opportunity for our people to excel when many other people are not able to even gathered up their normal activities. Rivers state is a very important place in the cultural and economic history of Nigeria; it has a lot of things to showcase and for remembering us, we want to assure the Dubai Tourism that His Excellency will continue to partner with you in developing this particular important sector of our national identity.
“This occasion is just an opportunity for us to bring to the knowledge of the whole world that there are talents here in Rivers state and they have done well. This is just the beginning of their being exposed to the whole world and we are going to unveil and introduce them to the world.”
One of the beneficiaries of the award, Samuel Nwankwo, expressed his gratitude to the agency and Rivers State government for looking at the profession and ready to give it a lift.
“It’s a dream come through. I put in my effort believing that God will also crown my effort. Is a thing of joy to have participated in such an exhibition. Haven went through a lot as an artist, you know in Nigeria Art is not always a favourable procession, but God does His own thing in His own way. I think this is one way we have been crowned. As a teacher, I always tell my students to do their best in all they do, put in their effort.
“As a member of is Society of Nigerian Artists, I wish the Rivers State government will look into that body because we have a lot to offer; we have been doing a lot and we need more. Rivers State has a lot to offer to the world, we fertilise the soil, sow that seed in us and the government will not regret it.”