Cross River State holds the unrivalled position of the tourism capital of Nigeria. Within the space of eight years of the Donald Duke administration, the state has been transformed from just another oil producing state in Nigeria’s turbulent Niger Delta region to a world class tourist destination.
Cross River State
Cross River State is a coastal state in the south-south region of Nigeria. It occupies a land area of 20, 156 square kilometers and boasts a population of 2,888,966 (2006). It shares boundaries with Benue (North), Republic of Cameroun (East), Akwa Ibom State and the South Atlantic Ocean (South), and Enugu and Abia States to the West.
Being a coastal state it has a tropical-humid climate with wet and dry seasons. Average temperatures range between 15°C – 30°C and annual rainfall between 1300 – 3000mm. In contrast, the high plateau area of Obudu have average temperatures of 4°C – 10°C due to its high altitude over the surrounding areas.
The state takes its name from the Oyono or Cross River which rises from the Cameroun Mountains and flows through the state southwards. The state has eighteen local government areas with Calabar as its state capital. The chief urban centres apart from Calabar Municipality are Ugep and Ogoja.
Major ethnic groups in the state are the Efik and Ekoi tribes. Food crops that are cultivated by the people include yams, cassava, rice, and corn. Other agricultural activities are coastal fishing and shrimping. Timber and palm oil trade and export are equally popular in the state.
Tourist Destinations in Cross River State
Airlines: the Margaret Ekpo International Airport in Calabar offers chartered flight travels to and from the state; Arik Air also offers inbound and outbound flights to and from Abuja and Lagos international airports.
Hotels: most standard hotels in Cross River State are located in Calabar. They range from the 243-room three-star Amber Tinapa Hotel in the Tinapa Free Trade Zone in Adiabo to the Metropolitan International Hotel on Muritala Muhammed Way.
Others are Scholet Suite Hotels on 3 Etim Edet Close off Ndidem Usang Iso Boulevard and the Jorany Hotel on 153 Asari Eso Layout all in Calabar.
Historic monuments: these include the Calabar Residency Museum, Calabar Slave Park, the Mary Slessor Tomb, colonial houses in Duke Town in Calabar among many others.
Eco-Tourist sites: these include the Cross River National Park (sub-divided into Ikom and Oban divisions), the breath taking Agbokim and Kwa falls, the Afi rainforest, the spiraling ox-bow Calabar River, the Calabar Marina, the Ikom volcanic stone monoliths constructed between 2500B.C. and 1A.D. as well as the world-renowned Obudu Cattle Ranch.
Other tourist destinations are the University of Calabar, Hope Wadell School, the oldest secondary school in eastern Nigeria, and Tinapa among others.
Festivals and carnivals: Cross River State features a host of local and international tourism-oriented festivals and carnivals usually held in December. They include the Calabar Christmas Festival (December 1-31); the Cross River State Carnival Float (December 26); and the Ugep Leboku Yam Festival (August 28).
Others are the Calabar Boat Regatta and the Anong Bahumono Dance Festival held in the village of Anong; the festival features cultural dance styles from across the state like the Ikpobin, Ekoi, Obam, Emukei, and Etangala.
Tinapa Business Resort
Tinapa is the flagship of the Cross River State government’s tourism drive. It is an integrated business and leisure resort located by the Calabar River and is an adjunct of the Calabar Free Trade Zone. The first phase of the four-phase project was commissioned in on April 2, 2007 under the then Donald Duke Administration.
Tinapa features 80,000 square kilometers of rentable retail and wholesale area comprising four emporiums of 10,000 square kilometers each. It also features an open Trade Exhibition Area for trade fairs and similar events.
Entertainment facilities available include Nollywood’s most modern film production studio, Studio Tinapa; a casino, children’s arcade, an eight-screen digital cinema, a mini-amphitheatre, a night club, and some pubs.
An artificial tidal lake that feeds from the Calabar River courses through the resort; a water park is also present. In addition the resort has a four thousand-capacity car park as well as a truck terminal.
An Independent Power Plant Project within the resort provides constant electricity.