Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos on Friday launched a Tourism Master Plan and Policy which seeks to make Lagos State one of the top-five tourism hubs in Africa.
Speaking at the presentation, the State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, described the event as a critical step to further unlock aspects of Lagos towards becoming Africa’s tourism giant.
He said: “Since our assumption of office, over two years ago, we have taken decisive steps to explore the abundant possibilities in this very critical sector by giving the practitioners and key stakeholders an opportunity to be directly involved in each of our policies”.
Sanwo-Olu, represented at the event by his Deputy, Dr. Kadri Obafemi Hamzat, stated that the tourism potentials of the State are yet to be fully harnessed, as such the policy is an attempt to unlock these potentials.
Speaking further, the Governor disclosed that the event is evidence of his administration’s commitment to inclusiveness and stakeholder partnership since the tourism sector thrives on Public-Private Partnership and collaboration.
He disclosed that the policy was developed with the consent of relevant stakeholders in the tourism industry, noting that it was reviewed to reflect the policy thrust and plans for Entertainment and Tourism pillar of the T.H.E.M.E.S Agenda.
“The Launch speaks of our sincere intention to better the lot of Lagosians, promote ease of doing business, attract more tourists to our State and domestic tourism activities in the Centre of Excellence”, he said.
According to him, the policy document will direct efforts in the tourism sector in strategic areas, namely: Culture and Heritage; Film, Art and Entertainment; Business and Meetings, Incentives; Conferences and Entertainment; Beach and Leisure; Nature and Adventure, and Medical and Wellness.
Sanwo-Olu averred that the document will help in the attainment of a robust execution and implementation of short, medium and long-term plans in different areas and aspects of Tourism activities in alignment with the vision to revamp the tourism sector holistically, adding that the waterways and beaches as well as restaurants, recreational parks and relaxation centres will be exposed at home and abroad for tourism purposes.
While stating that the event signals a new narrative in the sector, the Governor expressed confidence that the public presentation of the Lagos Tourism Master Plan and Policy is one that all stakeholders in the sector have been yearning for and hoping to have for implementation.
Earlier in his goodwill message, the Minister for Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who was represented at the event by the Director-General, Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Mr. Folorunsho Coker said it is time for all tiers of government in the country to partner on issues relating to tourism.
He said, “This is the time for collaboration and not a competition between all tiers of government, if there is competition between members of the State and Federal Government on issues relating to tourism the progress will be distorted”.
While noting the need for alignment of policies in the area of taxation and legislation, the Minister stated that the Lagos economy can sustain local tourism, tasking journalists on responsible reportage so as not to devalue the State’s claims to a position of value.
He, however, urged the government to harness the tourism potentials of Lagos, being the heartbeat of Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa.
In her address, the Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Pharm. Uzamat Akinbile-Yusuf, stated that the Master Plan will further transform Lagos into a major African tourism and entertainment hub by exploring and promoting the potentials that abound in the State, as well as integrating the thriving Entertainment and Arts industry as a viable platform to attract visitors and create jobs in Lagos State.
She added that the goal is to generate tourism revenue for business and government, which will lead to job creation, enhance the quality of life for Lagosians, align with the State’s development plans and domesticate tourism in Lagos.
The Special Adviser to the Governor, Mr. Solomon Bonu, remarked that the Master Plan and Policy are being conceived to provide a more holistic approach to the implementation of tourism activities across the State, such that there will be uniformity and orderliness in the sector.
He stated that in the course of the compilation, the Ministry of Tourism, Art and Culture had ensured that relevant stakeholders were involved from the inception of compilation and review of the documents up till the final stage.
Bonu further disclosed that there is a plan in place by the Ministry to train 500 youths from the five IBILE Divisions of the State as Tour Guides, adding that the Ministry is also training creative practitioners under its Lagos State Creative Industry Initiative (LACI) and members of Tourism Clubs to meet the needs of tourists in the sector.