• Justifies demand to take over federal assets
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, on Monday disclosed that tourism sector contributed $2.2 billion (equivalent to N800 billion) to the state’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2017, thereby representing 0.016 per cent of the GDP.
Ambode, thus, justified the state unrelenting demand to take over National Stadium, National Theatre and National Museum which he said was designed to revolutionise the tourism potential of Nigeria.
He gave the figure at the Lagos Tourism Summit held at Eko Hotels and Suites, Victoria Island, yesterday, noting that his administration had been developing critical infrastructure projects across the state to promote tourism sector.
Alongside the governor, former President of Ghana, Mr. John Mahama; Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, and Lagos State Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mr. Steve Ayorinde, among others attended the summit with the theme: ‘Destination Lagos: Towards a Sustainable Tourism-Driven Economy’.
Specifically, the governor acknowledged the essence of the tourism sector to the economy of the state, noting that his administration has already put tourism at the core of the growth strategy at this point in the development of the state.
He disclosed that the tourism sector contributed about $2.2billion (N800 billion) to the state GDP in 2017, “and with the infrastructure and resources we are deploying in this sector, we expect this figure to double or triple in the next five years.
“The enormous resources we have deployed in physical and social infrastructure across the state will begin to crystallise by December into mega structures that will support tourism and market our state as a smart destination,” he said.
The governor acknowledged that the state had become the commercial and entertainment nerve-centre of Africa, adding that Lagos “is arguably the city best suited to promote the idea of an iconic super brand for the black race with our young and energetic population, coastal location and other natural resources.”
He explained the need “to build a solid infrastructure 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. It must constantly and productively engage with its critical stakeholders.”
He, therefore, argued that the state’s tourism drive was the reason the state was reclaiming 50 hectares of land at the Oworonshoki end of the lagoon; clearing a whole stretch at the Badagry and Epe Marina, insisting that the state prime waterfront should not be taken over by shanties and slums.
He, also, argued that the rationales explained why his administration embarked on the aggressive construction of roads, fly-over and modern bus terminals, noting that the state was already preparing the ground for a major source of employment and prosperity.
Ambode added that the state government was demanding “to take control of wasting federal assets like the National Arts Theatre, National Museum and National Stadium and possibly declare our intention to have the Murtala Mohammed International Airport concessioned to us. We are focused on our tourism sector.”
The governor noted that the state unwavering commitment in changing the face of public transportation, committing more funds to providing jetties and expanding access to waterways. We are driven only by the need to build and sustain the needed infrastructure upon which an enduring tourism landscape can stand and outlive our administration and those coming after us.”
At the summit, former Ghanaian President, Mahama, said Lagos should learn from the success recorded in other climes, noting that the state could not develop tourism “to the level that it can become a key driver of our economy without developing solid infrastructure.”
Mahama said Lagos “has the potential to emerge as a foremost destination for tourism development in Africa. 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.
“I have been following the progress Lagos has made on various fronts, and I join those who have celebrated Ambode for the contributions he has made within this short period to enhance the efforts and contributions of his predecessors.
“If you look at about $7 trillion that is supposed to be earned from tourism, then definitely Lagos State positioning itself as a favourite destination for tourism in order to get a share of this huge cake is a very wise decision by Ambode and his team.”