Earlier in the week Lagos State hosted it's first ever Tourism Summit themed 'Destination Lagos: Towards a Sustainable Tourism-Driven Economy.'
Present were captains in the Hospitality, Entertainments, Arts, and Tourism Industry. The Chief Host of the event is the Governor of Lagos State, His Excellency, Mr.Akinwunmi Ambode with the Former President, Republic of Ghana, His Excellency, Mr. John Dramani Mahama, as the Keynote Speaker/Special Guest of Honour.
The event which took place at the Convention Centre of the Eko Hotels & Suites, in Lagos State, will hopefully give meaningful shape to the Lagos State Tourism Vision.
The mission of the Lagos State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode is to develop tourism through the provision of necessary infrastructure and facilities to make Lagos one of the most welcoming cities to local and international tourists.
This he iterated while delivering his Special Message during the event. "Lagos cannot survive without critical infrastructure development," says Mr Akinwunmi Ambode.
This is evident to the massive infrastructural development that is ongoing at the same time in different part of Lagos. It is key that the infrastructures that will make Lagos a major tourism hub on the continent be laid down.
In his keynote address, Mr. John Dramani Mahama points out that any government that is serious needs to put the following in place.
i) Tourism policy and guidelines: for effective support by government is needed for effective implementation of guidelines.
ii) Effective Competitiveness: Tourism developments must be able to compete effectively on a global scale.
iii) Human Resources: Tourism is a people industry, thus the need for development and guidelines of the sector.
iv) Sustainability of Natural Resources: Cooperation with the local community to preserve the tourism facilities in their community. Most of our natural tourism sites are in local communities.
There were paper presentations and different panel Discussions. Some of the panelist presents includes: Prince Yemisi Shyllon, Mr. Desmond Majekodunmi, Mr. Koye Edu, Mrs Omotayo Omotoso, Mr Philip Hughes, Mr Herbert Wigwe, Ms Ojoma Ochai, Hon. Desmond Elliot, Otunba Wanle Akinboboye, Mo Abudu, Mrs Lanre Da-Silva Ajayi, to mention a few. The different panel sessions had Ms. Lola Shoneyin, Mrs Nneka Isaac-Moses, Mrs Opunimi Akinkugbe and Mrs Abiola Alabi as moderators.
Lead paper presentation on 'Destination Lagos: Towards a Susutainable Tourism-Driven Economy' was delivered by Prof Ibukunoluwa Ayodele. Prof. Pat Utomi presented a paper on 'Financing Tourism: The paths and possibilities for Lagos State' where he highlighted Tourism as low hanging fruit for Lagos.
He also pointed out the following as keys to Lagos becoming more tourist friendly: Transport Infrastructure; Safety; Information; Organizing and managing access to places of desire; and promoting destinations.
Mr. Ikechi Uko, travel expert and organiser of the Akwaaba African Travel Market, presented a paper on 'MICE, Creative content as tourism sector panacea.' MICE stands for Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions. Mr Uko pointed out that countries like Ghana, Kenya and Rwanda credited the growth in the Tourism industry in their countries to MICE.
It is time for Lagos to take advantage of its arts, culture and most especially it's aquatic splendour in becoming a MICE destination of choice.
Some of the highlighted issues on the to-do list proposed to the Lagos State Government are: 1) Urgent need to train tour operators as entrepreneurs 2) Need for Tourist Clubs/Society in schools 3) Setting up of technical committee on Tourism 4) Proper tourism infrastructure.
Questions includes: How do we turn a business person to a tourist for 24-48 hours? How do we expect people to buy into our Tourism initiatives? More importantly is the need for everyone to think of Tourism in the value chain and teach others about the value chain.
All these discussions, paper presentations and all would have not be possible without the dedication of the Mr Steve Ayorinde, Commissione for Tourism, Arts and Culture, with his whole team.
We hope to have a Tourism roadmap by next year with proper implementation.