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Lagos Building Infrastructure To Promote Tourism, Says Ambode

Lagos State is investing huge resources to build an enduring infrastructure to ensure its tourism potential is harnessed for economic growth, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode said yesterday.

The governor spoke at the Lagos Tourism Summit with the theme: ‘Destination Lagos: Towards a sustainable tourism-driven economy’, at the Eko Hotels and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos.

He said the plans, concepts and executions of his administration were deliberate and well-thought out to make the 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 Murtala Muhammed International Airport concessioned to us; we are focused on our tourism sector.

Alluding to the massive opportunities available in the sector, Ambode said the activities within the tourism sector contributed about N800 billion to the state’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2017.

Noting that Nigeria boasts of very rich culture and heritage, 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.

In his keynote address, former President of Ghana Mr. John Dramani Mahama said Lagos has the potentials to emerge as a foremost destination for tourism development in Africa.

While hailing 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 1.8 billion tourists, the state was heading in the right direction in its bid to become Africa’s tourism hub.

He urged the government to make tourism plan competitive and not focus on the raw tourism development alone.

He advised that such plan should be linked to SMEs that would produce consumables, furniture and other items needed in the hospitality industry. This, he said, would enhance the creation of wealth. “If you import all the consumables then there will be capital flight,” he said.

Several paper presentations by speakers at the summit, including Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Prof. Pat Utomi, Mr. Desmond Majekodunmi, Mrs. Omotayo Omotosho, Mr. Philip Hughes.

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