Stakeholders in Lagos have brought to the front burner the need for the state to groom young tour guides in the tourism sector who would be able to tell the story of the rich cultural heritage and tourism potentials inherent in the state.
The stakeholders who spoke at a virtual event to mark this year’s World Tourism Day with the theme: “Tourism and Rural Development” organised by the Lagos State Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture noted that the state have been able to sustain the strides it has achieved in the sector through the consistent continuation of its policies and building on the gains established by successive administrations.
Speaking at the event, commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Pharmacist Uzamat Akinbile-Yusuf said the consistency in the ministry has been able to establish the state as a tourist destination.
She noted that ministry is in the process of registering hospitality establishments and lounges in the sector for the purpose of classifying them to achieve a level of standardization in the industry.
Uzamat stated that ministry is set to create markets in all tourism sites in Lagos to attract tourist and also drive economic distribution in the state.
She said: “The consistency in the ministry is what has been able to help Lagos state tourism to where it is today. What we do is to enhance the achievements of previous administrations, promote it and add flavour to whatever they have done and make it better. As a ministry we are trying to register all the hospitality establishments in Lagos state and also classify them. Most of our hotels, lounge and restaurants do self-classification which is not encouraging to tourist. We need to be sure that they actually have the standard of that classification which they claim to have.
“We are also trying to have a documentary of all the tourist attractions in Lagos state and I can assure you that in another one or two months’ time we are going to have a presentation of all the tourism attraction sites in the whole state. We are going to create markets in all the tourism sites that we have in Lagos State. When you have a tourism site in your state the best you can achieve is to create a market around that attraction. So when tourists come around they will be able to pick one or two souvenirs and circulate the wealth in the state.
Mrs Uzamat Akinbile-Yusuf, commended Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu for the support given to the ministry to work effectively inspite of the challenges of COVID-19 pandemic.
Also speaking, former commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mr Steve Ayorinde, noted that the next 12 months to 15 months is very crucial to the tourism industry sector in the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the absence of a vaccine to put end to its scourge.
The former Commissioner urged the ministry to upscale the annual One Lagos fiesta noting that the state will have to continue holding virtual events in the absence of a vaccine.
“My key advice would be to approach the next pandemic era on two levels: the first 15 months and the next 12 months. The first 15 month being from October to the end of 2021 this will rest on two legs. One is the possibility of the pandemic being eradiated totally or as they have said that there could be a second wave like we are seeing in America, if they do it means we will manage to continue in the manner that we have being doing – a combo of the physical and the virtual in most of the things that we are doing so that we will be able to say to the virus that we are stronger.
“The next 12 months will even be more important because there is likelihood that the pandemic would have been defeated either through vaccination or herd immunity. It is because that would be the last full year before the elections and before the primaries. And that would be one of the most important years if not perhaps the most important, before the primaries at the end of 2022 and the elections in 2023.
“Lets focus on domestic tourism, so that we can devote our energies, interest, investment to making sure it works. If the whole idea before pandemic was that Lagos was doing between 1.9 million foot falls into the states using the airports and others, lets us first and foremost retain that even if people are not coming as they would come from outside of the country. Lets replace those that we would be losing with domestic tourist and probably double the figure of those who come to Lagos.
“The collaboration with the Federation Tourism Association of Nigeria (FTAN) is very important and I think one area that we should focus on in that collaboration is in developing tour guides.
That is a major area where we are lacking. Who are the young people that we are raising to tell the story of Lagos, to sell Lagos as tour guides to even Lagosians before we start talking about non-Lagosians and outsiders
Mr Jamiu Ashimi, former Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, commended the present administration for consistently projecting the state as a global tourism and entertainment hub.
Ashimi said that milestone was achieved due to the state’s investments in the areas of infrastructure, security, environmental and waste management, traffic management, hotel grading, standardisation and more.
He said to sustain and improve on this growth, there was need to build unique platforms to grow domestic tourism, considering the negative effect of COVID-19 pandemic.
He urged the ministry to work on documenting the available tourists’ sites in the state which would give room for enlightenment on the path of intending tourists.
Mr Fadipe Sewanu, also a former Permanent Secretary of the Lagos State Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, urged the ministry to focus more on boosting domestic tourism.
He said this was necessary as COVID-19 pandemic had dealt ruthlessly with the industry.
Also, Oba Gbolahan Lawal, the Oniru of Iruland on Lagos Island, while speaking urged Lagos State Government to recognize “Isese Day,” set aside for the celebration of traditional religion, for global tourists’ attraction.
“Isese Day” is a day set aside in some South-West states of Nigeria to celebrate traditional religion on August 20 every year.
While commending Lagos State Government for the “giant strides taken in the development of tourism, arts and entertainment industry,” the monarch said that much still needed to be done in the area of traditional rites.
The Lagos monarch said steps should be taken to market “Isese Day” such that local and international tourists could participate as a way of promoting Nigerian culture and tradition.
“I want the Lagos State Government to consider the traditional institution as major stakeholder in the promotion of tourism.
“We need to promote the rich cultural and traditional sites in the state, encourage tourists’ inflow to those sites and encourage tourists visit during “Isese Day” every August 20th,” he said.
Special Adviser to the governor on Arts and Culture, Hon. Bonu Solomon Saanu who spoke also at the event urged the federal government to address the deplorable road condition of the Lagos-Badagry expressway which is inhibiting tourist and other road users from accessing the axis.
Saanu appealed to the federal government to urgently come to the aid of residents in the area who have been suffering untold hardship due to the bad state of the road.
He further advised the federal government to cede the construction of the Lagos-Badagry road to the state if it is unable to continue with its construction.