The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, on Monday said that it was time Lagos-Nigeria should take it rightful place in the history of world through its promotion of tourism.
Mohammed said this at the Lagos State Tourism Summit 2018 with the theme: ‘Destination Lagos: Towards a Sustainable Tourism-Driven Economy’.
The event was organised by the Lagos State Government in Lagos.
Mohammed said: “Over a period of about 379 years, between eight million and nine million Nigerians were captured and sold into slavery, predominantly in Cuba, USA and Brazil.
“Science has proven that about 60 per cent to 65 per cent of all African-Americans have Yoruba genetics. “Science has also indicated that 91 per cent of Brazilians who are of African origin have Yoruba genetics.
He said: “It is also important to note that African- Americans spend about $ 50 million annually on domestic and international travels.
”The same African-Americans spend about $55 million annually on spiritual reconnection tours to their motherland – where is their motherland – Nigeria.
”We need to change this narrative. To this end, the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture is partnering with the organisers of the Olojo Festival.
“This is the oldest known festival in the world started by Ooni Ogun in the wearing of the world’s oldest crown: the sacred “Aare’’ crown.
“This festival will bring in 55 of the top African-Americans travellers, travel agents, bloggers, writers, film crews to the 2018 Olojo’s festival to experience Lagos, Badagry, Ile-Ife and reconnect with their source over a period of five days.
“It is time when Lagos-Nigeria takes it rightful place in the history of world.
”We, therefore, invite the Lagos State Government to partner with us on this Olojo Festival, as it will showcase that, really, the centre and source of civilisation is in Yoruba land.”
Mohammed commended Governor Akinwumi Ambode of Lagos State for supporting the creative industry.
Also speaking, Governor Ambode said that it had become evident; that there was no other concentration of the black race that was larger than Nigeria.
The governor said that Lagos could tell the story of the black race.
Ambode said the summit would further demonstrate his commitment to find alternative platforms that could enrich the state and propel her prosperity continuously.
He said: “As a government, we are conscious of the fact that infrastructure, security, stability and partnership with all stakeholders are fundamental ingredients for tourism development.
“We have channeled a lot of resources into creating an enduring infrastructural architecture for the business of tourism to thrive.’’
He said that the state had come up with a Tourism Master Plan that would focus on six key sectors.”
Culture and Heritage, Film, Arts and Entertainment, Business Tourism, Nature and Adventure, Medical and Wellness, Beach and Leisure.
The governor said that the tourism sector was strategic to the growth of Lagos State as it contributed about $2.2billion (N800billion) to the GDP of Lagos State in 2017.
Ambode said that with the infrastructure and resources his administration was deploying in this sector, it was expecting current figure to double or treble in the next five years
He said: “The enormous resources we have deployed in physical and social infrastructure across the state will begin to crystallize by December into mega structures.
“That will support tourism and market our state as a smart destination.”
Also, the former President of Ghana, John Mahama, in a keynote address, said that tourism could not drive desired development and growth when not given full recognition by the government.
Mahama said that tourism was a major player in the international commerce that could position Africa’s economies to create employment and drive development when promoted in the sub-region.
He said: “According to statistics, money spent by an average tourists is about $700.
“If you put that against the fact that traveling and tourism represent approximately 10 per cent of global GDP, this translates to about seven trillion dollars.’’
The former president said that this was based on the 2016 United Nations World Tourism Organisation report.
He said: “International tourists’ arrival is projected to reach 1.8 billion dollars by 2030. That will be a huge jump from the 2017 figure of 1.32 billion dollars.
“For untapped locations like Lagos, this means that there is a huge opportunity to learn from successful locations to aggressively promote the tourism sector.’’
He said that he was happy that Lagos State was positioning itself to share in this cake because tourism development had the potential to attract billions in revenue to the state.
Mahama advised the state government to put adequate legislation in place to guide tourism practices, partner the private sector and work with the local communities to protect objects and tourism facilities for sustainability.
Similarly, the state Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mr Steve Ayorinde, said the summit was to take stock and appraise Lagos tourism sector in the last three years,
It would also help the state government to draw a road map toward making tourism a profitable economy in the state, he said.
He said: “Lagos is a land of multitudes, dreams, talents and opportunities.
“The present administration is ready to explore all these by seeking productive alternatives to oil and gas through the promotion of arts, culture and tourism.
“This is a new charge of development and growth that will rest on talents and aspirations of youth, who constitute 65 per cent of the population; to make Lagos sound, smart and a force to be reckoned with.”