The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has reiterated that Lagos State has the potential to become Africa’s tourism hub.
Speaking on Monday in Lagos, at the Lagos Tourism Summit with the theme; “Destination Lagos: Towards a Sustainable Tourism Drive’’, the minister said the Federal Government will support it in developing the sector.
This is coming as the Lagos State Tourism Promotion Bill, 2018, scaled the second reading in the Lagos State House of Assembly on Monday.
Mohammed commended Gov. Akinwumi Ambode of Lagos for his interest in the tourism and creative sectors of the economy; both at the state and national level.
The minister said the Federal Government had identified the tourism and creative sectors as alternative to oil, adding that his ministry was working toward developing the industry.
Mohammed recalled that upon assumption of office, his ministry organised a national tourism summit to provide the platform for harnessing the potential in the sector.
He said the ministry had revived the national tourism master plan to catalyse the development of the sector and also hosted a round-table on financing tourism.
The minister also disclosed that Nigeria would host the 61st edition of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO)/Commission for Africa (CAF) Meeting, scheduled for June 4 to June 6, 2018 in Abuja.
He also disclosed that the ministry would partner with relevant stakeholders, particularly, the people of Ile-Ife in Osun State in hosting the 2018 “Olojo’’ festival.
“Olojo is not just only Yoruba new festival, but the oldest known festival in the world started by Ooni Ogun with the wearing of the world’s oldest monarchical crown, the sacred Aare Crown.
“The festival will bring 35 of the top Africa-American travel writers, group travel agents, travel bloggers and travel film crews to the Olojo 2018 festival,’’ he said.
Former President of Ghana, John Mahama commended Ambode for his contributions toward developing Lagos to a mega city and a potential tourism hub.
Mahama, who was the keynote speaker at the event, underscored the need for Africa to develop tourism sector in order to solving the challenge of unemployment.
He also suggested a development of integrated tour packages between Nigeria and Ghana that would attract international tourists from Lagos to Accra and vice versa.
Earlier, Gov. Ambode said that his administration was committed to funding alternative platforms, particularly the tourism sector to enrich the state.
The governor said that the tourism sector contributed N800 million to the state’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2017.
He said as parts of efforts to transforming Lagos to tourism hub, the Lagos government was reclaiming 50 hectares of land at the Oworonshoki end of the lagoon, for aquatic tourism purposes.
He stated that the summit would help the state to develop its tourism master-plan that would be implemented within a specified number of years to turn Lagos to continental tourism hub.
TOURISM PROMOTION BILL
The Lagos State Tourism Promotion Bill, 2018 which scaled the second reading in the Lagos State House of Assembly on Monday is to provide for the establishment of the Lagos State Tourism Promotion Agency and for Connected Purposes.
The sponsors include: Mr Sanai Agunbiade, the Majority Leader; Mr Olumuyiwa Jimoh, the Deputy Majority Leader; Mr Elliot Desmond, Chairman, House Committee on Arts, Culture and Tourism and Mr Fatai Oluwa (Ajeromi Ifelodun II).
Others are: Mr Nurudeen Solaja-Saka (Ikorodu II); Mr Oladele Adekanye (Lagos Mainland I); Mr Victor AKande (Ojo I); Mr Jude Idimogu (Oshodi Isolo II) and Mr Sola Giwa (Lagos Island II).
Lawmakers who spoke on the bill, said it would make things better in the state, if passed into law.
Mr Tunde Braimoh, the Chairman, House Committee on Information and Strategy, in his contribution, said that arts and culture were integral parts of tourism.
According to him, development of tourism will bring exponential development to the state.
“Lagos State, no doubt, is gifted with many natural and topographical attributes to attract the world.
“When many African nations like Kenya, Tanzania and others are making huge revenues from tourism, what will Lagos give as an excuse with our natural beauties, aesthetics and endowments?
“We need to be creative, steadfast and determined in tapping into these non-oil revenues. This bill should be given an accelerated passage,” he said.
Mr Fatai Mojeed, Chairman, House Committee Transport, said the bill was aimed at not only showcasing the state’s rich culture, but also creating more employment and revenue.
Also speaking, Mr Setonji David, representing Badagry II in the Assembly said: This bill is apt as the highest of employer of labour in the world is tourism, and some countries live on tourism alone.
“The tourist potential in Lagos is enormous. It is extremely good for our economy in Lagos State.”
Mr Ibrahim Layode, representing Badagry Constituency I in the Assembly, however, said that most of the historic structures had been demolished and some were not well taken care of.
The Deputy Majority Leader, Olumuyiwa Jimoh, called for a section on safety in the bill, saying an average tourist would want to know about safety.
In his ruling, the Speaker of House, Mr Mudashiru Obasa, commended the bill, but expressed reservation on an area.
“I think I have a reservation on this issue; I agree that we need to promote Lagos State and source for more revenue and make Lagos State attractive to foreigners.
“We should learn not to put the cart before the horse.
“I think we should be able to articulate and integrate what have. We have fiesta, Lagos carnival and traditional heritages, but how have we been able to arrange them and link them?
“How do we promote and showcase our arts and culture for tourism when we have not put all these things together? We need to upgrade what we have before selling them,” he said.
The House committed the bill to its ad hoc committee on Arts, Culture and Tourism for further deliberation.
The committee has two weeks to report back to the house.