The tourism policy question has been a knotty one which has plagued Nigeria since independence. Whereas her contemporaries on the continent are reaping great rewards from the sub-economy, Nigeria is just beginning to tap into its real potentials, especially with the adoption of the Tourism Satellite Accounts (TSA) in the computation of its statistics. Realising that much could be derived from this goldmine, Lagos State has taken the initiative by organising its first-ever tourism summit.Â Omolola ItayemiÂ Â was there
The theme for the Summit , â€œDestination Lagos: Towards a Sustainable tourism-driven economyâ€ was delivered by Professor I. A. Ayodele of the Department of Wildlife and Ecotourism Management, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Ibadan, while Professor Pat Utomi talked on â€œFinancing tourism, the paths and possibilities for Lagos Stateâ€. James McGregor, spoke on â€œExploring Lagos tourism ecosystem for economic and social benefitsâ€ and Ikechi Uko presented a paper on â€œMICE: Creative content as tourism sector panaceaâ€.
The summit attracted the former President of Ghana, John Mahama, who delivered the keynote address; the Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Alhaji Lai Mohammed; Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yoruba, Chief Gani Gani Adams; the Director-General, Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Folorunso Folarin Coker; President, La Campagne Tropicana Beach Resort, Ambassador Wanle Abimbola; Chairman Nigerian-British Chamber of Commerce (NBCC), Prince Dapo Adelegan; Honourable Desmond Elliot and other distinguished personalities.
Folarin-Coker commended the Governor of Lagos State, Akinwumi Ambode for the initiative to convene the summit.
Addressing a flood of newsmen at the venue, he described the action of the governor as â€œa strategic step at involving the stakeholders and the public in tourism policy making.â€
He said it was a clear attestation of the genuine desire of Ambode to provide the right ambience for the enhancement of the tourism potentialities of Lagos State. â€œHere today, the governor is taking tourism issues and matters right to the doorstep of the public for injection and intervention on how best these hidden treasures can be tapped for the benefit of all,â€ the NTDC boss said.
He described Lagos as the heartbeat of Nigeria tourism, â€œhence, every successive governor in Lagos State has realised the import of the state as a potential tourism hub and each of them has always taken steps that have been of immense benefit to the sector.â€
He added: â€œLagos is the major entry point to Nigeria. It is blessed with people, culture, sites, beaches, history, sight and sound, and music, which are ingredients of tourism. Tourism in Lagos is like a rough diamond and fortunately for the state, the goldsmith is here to polish the diamond for it to glow.â€
Other tourism stakeholders hurled loads of commendation at Ambode for his pivotal action of holding the tourism summit where matters relating to the development of tourism in Lagos were exhaustively discussed.
Ambassador Akinboboye, said: â€œThe convocation of this Lagos Tourism Summit by Governor Ambode is an indication that the tourism sector in Lagos State is in for a new deal. Here comes a governor who understands the import of tourism and ready to lay the fundamentals for its germination, growth and blossoming. This is not only a right step in the right direction but a confidence-building in the minds of the practitioners and stakeholders that someone cares about the sector.â€
Otunba Ayo Olumoko, Vice President, South-West, Federation of Tourism Associations in Nigeria (FTAN), is of the opinion that Ambode has just proved once again that he is a visionary leader who is not only a future-oriented leader but a leader with a positive attitude.
â€œHe is a governor who thinks aboutÂ tomorrow, thinking about how to positively utilise today for the enhancement ofÂ tomorrowÂ in a sustainable manner. He is unlike others who think of yesterday problem. The summit is a platform of involving the public and gathering public opinion on how Lagos tourism sector should be.
â€œI am also using this opportunity to assure Ambode of the full cooperation and support from all members of our association. However, I also want him to look into the issue of multiple taxations, which tourism practitioners and stakeholders are subjected to in Lagos State and I hope that the outcome of this summit will not lead to extra taxes, being imposed on us. I know that one cannot run a good government without taxes but it should be streamlined and judicious in imposition,â€ Olumoko said.
The highpoints from the one-day summit would form the kernel of the Lagos State Tourism Master Plan.Â
Tour Operator and Chairman/Founder of FlyBoku.com.Â Mr AbiolaÂ Lawal (aka Mr Boku) saÃ¯d Lagos Summit is an important step taken in bringing the stakeholders together – private sector , financial institutions, tour operators, media and govt in charting a course for a sustainable tourism development.Â It is the beginning however not the end in ensuring a viable tourism sector with a very proactive lasg providing the enabling environment for job creation and for the industry to thrive. It should be a good example for other states especially the ones with multiple tourism assets to follow.