Former Director-General of Nigerian Tourism Development Cooperation (NTDC), Otunba Olusegun Runsewe, has thrown his tourism weight behind the plans of Lagos State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode to transform the presidential lodge in Lagos to a tourist hub, but pleaded and suggested that a heritage and visitors tower would stand out the Centre of Excellence in the global tourism and liveability ranking.
Speaking to journalists in Lagos on Monday, Runsewe described the handover of the landmark Presidential lodge by President Buhari to Lagos government as the best news to have ever come to him in the history of tourism development in Nigeria, an initiative he said shows that President Buhari meant well for the development of all the component units of Nigeria.
To critically brand and transform the lodge located on the busy Lagos Marina into a global iconic tourism feature, Runsewe whose tenure in Government tourism administration attracted huge local and international commendation pleaded that Governor Ambode should get the best hands and reputable companies to construct a signature world heritage and visitors tower around the vicinity of the lodge with a visibility range to Lekki, Ikeja, Ayobo, Epe, Ikorodu and Badagry.
According to Runsewe, a special light rail must connect the signature heritage and visitors tower to Lagos airport, which in turn could create about 160,000 tourism jobs and turn the Marina/Onikan axis into an exclusive tourism destination comparable to Dubai, Canada, Trinidad &Tobago and Singapore.
“This is a tourism and culture heritage Mecca in the making and when all the special tourism facilities and luxury appointments are added to it, such as cable car, car park, shopping mall, children Fun Park, food courts, electronic photo shops and entertainment windows.
“This is a model that will not only create tourism jobs, but also complement the ongoing mega infrastructural development for Lagos State to truly become Africa’s tourism hub verifiable livability value chain to a world looking for a place to rest and do business,” he said.
Runsewe who last week got a great thumb up from former President Olusegun Obansanjo for a job well done while at NTDC, recalled his efforts in 2010 when he organised and took all the 36 states tourism and culture commissioners in Nigeria to South Africa to educate and expose them to how best to market heritage resources and its job creation value chain, informed that Governor Ambode with the Presidential lodge in his hands, is now within the threshold of making Lagos, nay Nigeria, the preferred tourism destination in Africa.
“I am excited about this news and commend President Buhari for the gesture. I want to believe that if Govenor Ambode would stick to his plans for tourism in Lagos and from what he has already done, that lodge with a signature heritage and visitors tower easily and strategically connected to major transport entry and departure points in Lagos, would turn Lagos into an instant tourism jobs and revenue generating avenue,” Runsewe predicted.