Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Mr. Lai Mohammad has said that it was time for Lagos and Nigeria to take their rightful place in the promotion of tourism to the World.
The Minister was speaking at the Lagos State Tourism Summit at the Eko Hotel and Suites, with the theme: Destination Lagos: Towards A sustainable Tourism- Driven Economy.
Mr. Muhammad said that the Nigerian government had addressed some of the issues impeding tourism development of the country, with a Master plan for tourism which eventually paved way for the hosting rights of the UNWTO meeting in Nigeria in June this year.
“The National Summit convened, birthed the Master plan on tourism and at the Summit. We were able to make a bid for the hosting right of United Nations World Tourism Organisation and CAF meetings which is taking place in Abuja on the 4th to 6th of June, 2018.”
The Minister, who thanked the Lagos State Governor, for his support in the development of tourism, said that Nigeria was rich in culture and values, and emphasized the need to change the narratives by re-branding the national outlook through tourism.
The Minister said that the government would be partnering with Olojo festival in South-west Nigeria, to host this year’s event.
“The Ministry of Information and Culture is partnering with Olojo festival which is not only Yoruba lineage but the oldest known festival in the world.
The festival will bring in 55 top African and American travel bloggers among others, to experience Lagos, Badagry, Ile Ife and reconnect with their source during the period of five days,” Minister said
In his special message, the Lagos state Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode said that the Summit was a pointer to the zeal and dexterity of the state’s government to continually develop a broad space for tourism and hospitality.
According to him: “This summit further demonstrates our commitment to find alternative platforms that can enrich our State and propel her prosperity continuously.
We are very proud of our culture and heritage. It has become very clear and evident; that there is no other concentration of the black race that is larger than Nigeria, and most especially Lagos that can tell the story of the black race.”
He explained that the state was concerned about the creation of an enabling environment for tourism to thrive.
“As a government, we are conscious of the fact that infrastructure, security, stability and partnership with all stakeholders are fundamental ingredients for tourism development.
We have channeled a lot of resources into creating an enduring infrastructural architecture for the business of tourism to thrive.
Our plans, concepts and executions are very deliberate and well thought-out to make a highly populated mega city-state culturally attractive and artistically functional.
We are humble enough to draw inspiration from what cities like Miami; São Paulo; Dubai, Singapore and Tokyo are doing with Tourism and we see how African Cities like Cape Town, Cairo, Marrakech and Accra have drawn attention to themselves as tourist havens of varying degrees.” “Governor added.
The Governor stressed that the state would leverage on the coastal location and energetic population and other natural to promote the idea of an iconic super brand for the black race.
“The tourism sector contributed about $2.2billion (N800billion) to the Lagos GDP in 2017 and with the infrastructure and resources we are deploying in this sector, we expect this figure to double or treble in the next 5 years.”
He said the state remain committed to listening and learning more from all the experts in the tourism sector as he knows that Lagos is on a journey to greatness and he was glad to be counted as being part of that history.
The former President of the Republic of Ghana, Mr. John Mahama in his keynote address, emphasized the need for collaboration among African countries to enable it forge a common front to develop the continent’s tourism potentials.
He called on the West African countries to synergize on how to fast track the development of tourism in Lagos, Nigeria and Africa.
“We need to collaborate more as neighboring countries, on all fronts, especially security and the protection of our people. As a President and Chair of ECOWAS at a certain point, I worked with both President Jonathan and President Muhammad Buhari, and other West African leaders to ensure timely sharing of security and sea pirates information among our agencies.
The former President advised that Lagos state focus not just on the raw development of facilities but a clear and purposeful backward integration of tourism development into the economic development agenda of the government.
He, however cited four key guidelines which can sustain Lagos State’s economy to include: Sustainable Tourism Policy and Governance, Economic Performance, Investment and Competitiveness, Human resource, and sustainability of the Natural and cultural environment.
The State Commissioner Tourism, Art and Culture, Mr. Steve said that the Summit was designed to address some of the challenges facing tourism in the state, to look at prospects and begin to execute new strategies in the quest to make Tourism a profitable creative venture as the new oil and gas.
There are other paper presentations by Prof Pat Utomi, on Financing Tourism: The path and possibilities for Lagos state and Mr James McGregor on Exploring the Lagos Tourism Ecosystem for Economic and Social Benefits.