Former President of Ghana, Mr. John Dramani Mahama has said Lagos has the potential to emerge as a foremost destination for tourism development in Africa.
Mahama, who spoke at the Lagos Tourism Summit, held recently at the Eko Hotels and Suites, Victoria Island, with the theme- ‘Destination Lagos: Towards A Sustainable Tourism-Driven Economy’, also commended Governor Ambode for his efforts towards growing tourism through investment in infrastructure, he said with the billions of dollars revolving in the sector across the world and over 1.8billion tourists, the State was heading in the right direction in its bid to become Africa’s tourism hub.
“I’ve been following the progress Lagos has made on various fronts and I join those who have celebrated Governor Akinwunmi Ambode for the contributions he has made within this short period to enhance the efforts and contributions of his predecessors.
“There are potential billions of naira in revenue that Lagos State could earn in the next several years with the successful implementation of the plan that you intend could come out of this summit.
“If you look at the nearly $7trillion that is supposed to be earned from tourism, then definitely Lagos State positioning itself as a favourite destination for tourism in order to get a share of this huge cake is a very wise decision by Governor Ambode and his team.
“Thankfully, Lagos in preparation for the launch of the State’s tourism master plan has began upgrading and expanding critical infrastructure including transportation, roads and of course the recent reclamation that is ongoing,” Mahama said.
In the same vein, the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode also reiterated that his administration was consciously investing huge resources to develop an enduring infrastructural architecture that would ensure that the State’s tourism potentials are fully harnessed for all round economic growth and development.
The Governor said the plans, concepts and executions of his administration are deliberate and well thought-out to make the highly populated mega city-state culturally attractive and artistically functional.
“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,” he said.
He said his administration was not unmindful of the fact that for the State to match up with other leading world tourism destinations like Miami; São Paulo; Dubai, Singapore and Tokyo as well as African cities such as Cape Town, Cairo, Marrakech and Accra, the right infrastructure has to be put in place.
“In order to do this successfully, we must first build a solid infrastructural architecture that will endure. It must be safe and secure; it must provide functional and diverse venues for the arts, culture, festivals, creative industry, recreation and wildlife; and it must constantly and productively engage with its critical stakeholders.
“So when you see us reclaim 50 hectares of land at the Oworonshoki end of our lagoon; when you see us clear a whole stretch at the Badagry and Epe Marina; when we insist that our prime waterfront must not be taken over by shanties and slums; when you see us embark on some ambitious road, fly-over and modern bus terminal constructions; we are preparing the grounds for a major source of employment and prosperity.
“When you see us continue to plead for the control of wasting federal assets like the National Arts Theatre, National Museum and National Stadium and possibly declare our intention to have the Muritala Mohammed International Airport concessioned to us; we are focused on our tourism sector.
“When you see our unwavering commitment in changing the face of public transportation, committing more funds to providing jetties and expanding access to waterways, please know that we are driven only by the need to build and sustain the needed infrastructure upon which an enduring tourism landscape can stand and outlive our administration and those coming after us,” the Governor said.
Alluding to the massive opportunities available in the sector, Governor Ambode said that the activities within the tourism sector contributed about N800billion to the State’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2017.
“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.
“The enormous resources we have deployed in physical and social infrastructure across the State will begin to crystallize by December into mega structures that will support tourism and market our state as a smart destination,” the Governor said.
Noting that Nigeria boasts very rich culture and heritage, Governor Ambode said it was not in doubt that the country has the largest concentration of the black race, adding that Lagos sits in a better position to tell the story of the black race.
He said the Lagos Tourism Master plan, which would emerge at the end of the summit was premised in the context of the fact that the State can become an iconic brand of the black race.
“The Tourism Master Plan is focused on Six (6) key sectors; Culture and Heritage, Film, Art and Entertainment, Business Tourism, Nature and Adventure, Medical and Wellness, Beach and Leisure,” Governor Ambode said.
Besides, he said the Tourism Summit, coming a week after a Security Summit was held at the same venue was a demonstration of the government’s commitment to find alternative platforms that can enrich and propel the State to prosperity continuously.
Several paper presentations by speakers at the Summit including Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Professor Pat Utomi, Mr. Desmond Majekodunmi, Mrs Omotayo Omotosho, Mr. Philip Hughes, while commending the State Government for putting together the summit, made recommendations on what Lagos must do to harness the massive potentials in the tourism sector.