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LASG invests in security to boost tourism

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The Lagos State Government is investing heavily on security, as a means of boosting the tourism potential of the state.To emerge as a tourist hub, the state is also cultivating the support of the private sector through their contributions to the Lagos State Security Trust Fund (LSSTF).

The incentivising investment, government said, is aimed at fully exploiting the tourism potential of the state, while reiterating its commitment to creating the right environment through enhancement of infrastructure and effective policies.Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, said this in his keynote at the 2019 Tourism and Hospitality Forum, organised by the Institute of Directors (IoD) Nigeria.Sanwo-Olu, who spoke on, “Driving sustainability tourism through governance, policy and infrastructure,” mentioned initiatives that the state is taking to ease movement of people and goods around the city to attract tourists.

He said for tourism to thrive in the state, infrastructure must keep up with the demographics.“We need to move larger numbers of people around the city, and in faster and more efficient ways. And we cannot do this by our roads alone, considering that in the first place we are a relatively small landmass, and limited in our ability to expand. This is why we are taking serious advantage of our waterways.

“If we are able to create efficient and affordable mass transit alternatives that will connect and open up the city; there is no doubt that we will see positive effects in terms of attracting tourists.“The International Airport in Lagos is undergoing a revamp, and the Federal Government has assured that by early 2020 the new Terminal under construction will become operational. By now, it would have become clear that Lagos State cannot singlehandedly create the conditions for tourism to thrive here,” he said.

Emphasising the role that tourism and hospitality plays in creating alternative sustainable revenues and jobs for individuals, companies and the nation as a whole, President and Chairman, Governing Council of IoD Nigeria, Chris Okunowo, urged that the sector should be given its fair share of attention by government.

He said the tourism and hospitality sector should also be given a projection of the governance and ethical issues surrounding the industry in Nigeria, particularly given its growing relevance and contribution to the national economy.While many African countries have increased the scope of tourism to meet global benchmarks, he bemoaned Nigeria’s approach, which he said appears to be wobbling in the past.He expressed worry that recent reforms by the government seemed to reflect old thinking for the tourism and hospitality industry, even in new times.

Okunowo decried that both the Federal and states government have continued to maintain a dogmatic approach, which narrowly defines tourism as arts and culture with poor emphasis on other aspects like nature and conservation.According to the T&T competitiveness report by the World Economic Forum in 2017, Nigeria ranked a low 129th out of the 136 African countries compared to Ghana and South Africa, which rank 120th and 53rd respectively.

Factors for this low ranking, Okunowo said; include low prioritisation of the tourism industry by the government, poor infrastructural facilities and insecurity challenges.“All these have resulted in inertia towards tourism in the country, reflected in an increase in outbound travels to destinations like Ghana and South Africa, and resulting in loss of revenues.

“It is my considered opinion that until issues of infrastructure development and governance practice in relation to the tourism and hospitality industry are addressed in a sustainable manner, our desire for national growth and development may be elusive,” Okunowo said.At the plenary session, Managing Director of Jumia Travel, Omolara Adagunodo, who identified some series of malaise that have hindered the development of tourism and hospitality industry, said Nigeria is sitting on untapped potential, which the sector offers.She urged government to create the enabling environment while the private sector provides the services.


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Babajide Sanwo-OluLSSTF
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