This year’s edition of the World Tourism Day celebration hosted by the Lagos State government played host to the Minister of Culture and Tourism, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and heads of government agencies, among others at the Eko Atlantic City, Lagos.
The celebration which was out of the usual norm, engaged participants on a guided tour of the unique splendour of the distinct districts of the Eko Atlantic City, which include the business and Marine districts, Eko Atlantic Mall, Eko international Academy, the great wall of Lagos, canal markings among others.
Speaking during the opening, the Deputy Governor of Lagos, Dr Idiat Oluranti Adebule, who represented the governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode, called for the establishment of right framework and environment for tourism to thrive in the country as a major revenue earner.
According to Ambode, “What is needed for tourism to be a viable economic sector is to develop a framework for the sector.
“It is pertinent at this juncture for us to develop a framework for the development of the travel and tourism industry in Nigeria.
“The potential of this sector can only be harnessed if we create the right environment for the investment to thrive. We must open up the sector through incentives, attractive policies as well as the provision of world class infrastructure.
“The event marking WTD, has come at a time when we are faced with the stark realities of the current economic recession and the necessity for us to reorder our economic priorities, affirm its relevance and timeliness.
“Our determination to fully exploit the tourism potential of the state has been demonstrated with the creation of a ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture and the adoption of project tagged Tourism, Hospitality, Entertainment and Sports for Excellence (THESE),
“We have remained focused on the goal of making our state the hub for tourism and entertainment in Africa by taking opportunity of events to showcase to the world our rich culture and heritage.”
In his message to Nigeria, the Minister of information and Culture, Alhaji Mohammed said the government chose to go out of the normal to mark the World Tourism Day at the Eko Atlantic because of its uniqueness and futuristic tendency to boost tourism activities as a business hub.
“As the Federal Government works day and night to pull Nigeria out of recession and put our economy on the path of sustainable growth, it is becoming increasingly clear, like President Muhammadu Buhari admonished, that we must think out of the box.
“We must find other sustainable means of earning foreign exchange outside of oil, to grow our country’s GDP and create jobs for our people. Agriculture and mining are viable options, but tourism is the low hanging fruit in this regard, and we must not hesitate to pluck it.
“The venue we have chosen for this year’s celebration, Eko Atlantic City, attests to this fact. While I will like to reiterate Nigeria’s readiness to explore and exploit tourism for the benefit of its economy, I can confidently add that Eko Atlantic City has what it takes to drive tourism in Nigeria.
“While the role of the government will be to provide the enabling environment, the private sector will drive the growth of tourism. This is a win-win model for the government and the private sector, and I commend Eko Atlantic for being in the forefront of actualising this model.
“For those who may not know, Eko Atlantic, when completed will be a tourist haven. The city will boast of 450,000 residents and 300,000 commuters, which is a boon for the myriad of businesses to be located in the city. In addition, it will have a registered Free Economic Zone to encourage economic activities.
“As you are also aware, shopping malls attract tourists the way bees are attracted to honey. The shopping mall here in Eko Atlantic will be the largest of its kind in Sub-Saharan Africa.
“For our part, we appeal to investors to help turn our numerous tourist sites to tourist attractions. Nigeria is rich in natural and man-made tourist destinations. With this administration’s massive investment in infrastructural development, more and more of the tourist sites will become accessible to all.”