Africa: Lagos State is creating an enduring architecture for the business of tourism to thrive – Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode

Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, the governor of Lagos State, Africa’s most populous city and the second largest economy in West Africa, has revealed that the State is creating an enduring architecture for the business of tourism to thrive as it targets its Tourism Master Plan to be a driver to support continuous prosperity of the State.
Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode stated this at the State’s maiden tourism summit with the theme, “Destination Lagos: Towards a Sustainable Tourism-Driven Economy” as the State looks to become a foremost  international tourism destination in the coming years. The event was held at the Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos.
In his remarks, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode explained that the fundamental focus of the Lagos Tourism Master Plan is to demonstrate the commitment of his government to transform the tourism sector in the State, support further growth of the sector and also to ensure that the State reaps the quantum benefits that abound in that sector.
“This Tourism Summit further demonstrates our commitment to find an alternative platform that can enrich our State and also to propel us to be continually prosperous. We are very proud of our culture and heritage.
Speaking further, the Governor boasted that, “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.  And so the Lagos Tourism Master Plan which is the ultimate end product of this summit is premised in the context of this analogy.
“There is nobody that is going to tell the story of the black people if Lagos does not stand up to do it. That is where we are going”.
Mr. Ambode explained that his government is very conscious of this fact and that that is why the government has been “building infrastructure, raising security and safety, stability and partnering with all stakeholders who are fundamental ingredients for tourism development.
“We have channeled a lot of resource to creating an enduring architecture for the business of tourism to thrive. Tourism does not stand on its own; it is the infrastructure supporting it that actually allows it to thrive and that is why there has been so much upbeat about putting the infrastructure in place.
He explained that the State’s plans, concept and execution are very deliberate and well thought out to make a highly populated mage City – State culturally attractive and artistically functional noting that the State is drawing inspiration from other cities like Sao Paolo, Dubai, Singapore and Tokyo who are using tourism to a great extent.
The Governor noted that “We can also see African cities like Cape Town, Marackish, and Accra have drawn attention to themselves as tourist haven of varying degrees. Our reputation as a commercial and entertainment nerve centre of Africa is not in doubt. With our young and energetic population, our coastal location and other natural resources, we are arguably the city best suited to promote the idea of an iconic super brand of the black race.
“In order to do this successfully, we must first build a solid infrastructure, an architecture that will endure; it must be safe and secure. It must provide functional and enduring venues for the arts, culture, festivals, the creative industry, recreation and wildlife and it must constantly and productively engage its critical stakeholders which are what we are trying to achieve today”, he maintained.
Mr. Ambode explained further the the various landmark infrastrucrure cuurently going on in the State as efforts targeted at boosting tourism in the State as he said that, “So when you see us, we are reclaiming 50 hectares of land at the Owonroshoki end of our lagoon, we are building the infrastructure for entertainment and tourism.
“When you see us and we are clearing a whole stretch of the Badagry and the Epe Marina, when we insist that our prime water front should not be taken over by shanties and slums. When you see us embark on some ambitious road projects, flyovers and others under construction, preparing the ground 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 Art Theatre, National Museum and National Stadium and possibly declare our intention to have the Murtala Muhammed International Airport to be under our concession: we are focused on our the tourism sector.
“When you see our unwavering commitment to 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 for which an enduring tourism landscape can stand and also out live our own administration and those coming after us”.
Mr. Ambode then set the tone and the objectives for the Tourism Master Plan explaining in the process that “Our government recently commissioned the development of a tourism master plan which will show the roadmap to be taken in the next couple of decade to make tourism a major sector of the Lagos economy.
“This Tourism Master Plan is one of the legacies we are determined to bequeath to Lagosians and the coming generations. The master plan is focused on key sectors of culture and heritage, film, art and entertainment, business tourism, nature and adventure, medical and wellness, beach and leisure.
“We have put tourism at the core of our growth strategy at this point in the development of this state, laying a solid foundation for the continued prosperity of Lagos and Lagosians.
“The tourism sector contributed about 800 billion to the Lagos GDP in 2017 and with the infrastructure and resources we are deploying in this sector we expect this figure to double in the next 5 years. The enormous resources we are deploying in physical and social infrastructure across the State will begin to crystalize by December into mega structures that would support tourism and also market our state as a smart destination”.
The Chairman of the occasion and was the key note speaker, the former president of Ghana, Mr. John Dramani Mahama, in his speech noted that the tourism sector is “is a very fast services sector that we need to combine with an industrial revolution to position our economies in Africa for the needed growth in order for us to create more jobs for our young people”.
He noted that there is “the potential billions of naira in revenue that Lagos can earn in the next several years with the successful implementation of the master plan that it intends to come out of this summit”.
The event had four sessions which focused on the various aspects the Tourism Master Plan is speculated to cover. Each session was handled by a rated expert with panelists who discussed on the issues raised from the presentations.
The speakers included Professor Ibukunoluwa Ayodele, Professor Pat Utomi, Mr James McGregor and Mr. Ikechi Uko.
By Renn Offor
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