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Sustainable Tourism Strategy Best For Lagos State Tourism Policy

By Babatunde Olaide-Mesewaku
23 May 2015   |   3:15 am
WHAT is Sustainable tourism? The World Tourism Organisation (WTO) sees the concept of sustainable tourism development as meeting the needs of present tourists and host regions while protecting and enhancing opportunity for the future. It is envisaged as leading to management of all resources in such a way that economic, social, and aesthetic needs can be fulfilled while maintaining cultural integrity, essential ecological processes, and biological diversity, and life support systems.

Participants at the Lagos Carnival

WHAT is Sustainable tourism? The World Tourism Organisation (WTO) sees the concept of sustainable tourism development as meeting the needs of present tourists and host regions while protecting and enhancing opportunity for the future.

It is envisaged as leading to management of all resources in such a way that economic, social, and aesthetic needs can be fulfilled while maintaining cultural integrity, essential ecological processes, and biological diversity, and life support systems.

The concept of sustainable tourism therefore implies that in the formulation of tourism development planning policies and the implementation and evaluation of tourism programmes a conscious consideration should be given to long-term economic, environmental, socio-cultural and political well-being of all stakeholders.

Who are the key stakeholders in sustainable tourism? The major stakeholders are the Governmental Bodies, Pressure Groups, Tourism Industry, the Host Community, Tourists, Voluntary Sector, Experts and the Media. Striking a balance amongst all these interests in a destination is pertinent.

Tourism is an interesting phenomenon because for it to thrive, the ideal conditions are political stability, security, a well-defined legal framework and the essential services and infrastructure ( power, roads, water supply and a suitable environment) that the State is able to provide.

These are the window of opportunities for tourism development venture already provided by the Fashola’s administration.

Why Sustainable Tourism for Lagos State? The World Travel and Tourism Council recent reports show that Travel and Tourism’s contribution to the world GDP grew for the fifth consecutive year in 2014, rising to a total of 9.8% of world GDP (US$7.6 trillion).

The sector now supports nearly 227 million people in employment – that’s 1 in 11 jobs on the planet. Its growth of 3.6% was faster than the wider economy and out-performed growth in the majority of leading sectors in 2014.

The established fact here is that tourism remains the largest foreign exchange earners of any country and the largest employer of labour globally.

Its potential to create and generate employment for thousand of jobless youths in Lagos State and thus reduce poverty cannot be over-emphasised. In the contemporary socio-economic milieu of Lagos State available statistics show that Lagos is home to 2,000 industrial establishments, 10,000 commercial ventures and 22 industrial estates.

Lagos is responsible for 30% of the nation’s GDP; the State accounts for 70% national maritime cargo freight; 80% of international aviation traffic and 50% of national energy consumption.

If Lagos were a country in its own right, its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $80 billion (2010) would make it the eleventh-biggest economy in Africa.

What is more, Lagos population according to the United Nations projections will be 20 million in 2015 thus making it the 3rd largest city in the world.

With these robust statistics that hugely support accelerated development in tourism venture in the State, sustainable tourism becomes imperative as the appropriate policy to adopt for its implication for the environment, the economy and control of tourism activities.

With the Lagos State Development Plan (LSDP) 2012 – 2025 having a baseline picture of the State in spheres of Economic, Infrastructure, Social Services and Protection and sustainable Environment; the mega city status of Lagos State with the State’s strategy focusing on Power, Agriculture & Agro-Allied, Transportation and Housing (PATH) to move the State along the path of emerging world economies such as Brazil, India, Russia, China and South Africa (BRICS), appropriate environmental enablement that naturally supports a booming tourism system and destination is already entrenched.

Lagos State, apart from being the economic hub of the nation and the West African region, is also the entertainment hub of Nigeria.

It is endowed with natural landscape and topography traversed by sea and lagoon waters and festooned with beautiful beaches and waterfronts coupled with its diverse tangible and intangible cultural and natural heritage.

All these are unique tourism products that are yearning to be tapped, harnessed and developed for the socio-economic transformation of the State.

With the socio-economic indices and demographic details enumerated above, Lagos State provides huge domestic market and veritable grounds for ‘explosive’ and rapid tourism development with consequent excessive pressures on infrastructures, the environment and natural resources.

The appropriate tourism type to adopt in this circumstance not only to drive the economy but to minimise the adverse effects of inherent negative tourism activities by putting in place a mechanism for control, conservation and protection of basic resources and the environment in a destination, is Sustainable Tourism.

Some of the most important principles of sustainable tourism development applicable to Lagos State for tourism development and destination management are that: Tourism should be initiated with the help of broad-based community-inputs and the community should maintain control of tourism development.

A pro-poor strategies should be adopted especially in the rural areas in which the community people will the suppliers, producers, workers and decision makers.

Tourism should not only generate but provide quality employment to its community residents and a linkage between the local businesses and tourism should be established; A code of practice should be established for tourism operations and practices based on internationally accepted standards.

Guidelines for tourism operations, impact assessment, monitoring of cumulative impacts, and limits to acceptable change or carrying capacity at the designated destinations should be established; Education and training programmes at both the State and local government levels to improve and manage heritage and natural resources should be established The Areas of Policy Focus and Operation in the first four years There is the need for the creation of designated tourism destinations in the State with attractive pull factors established.

These destinations are better located in rural locality of Epe, Badagry, Ikeja and Ikorodu. This will accelerate infrastructural development in these areas, create jobs and reduce urban migration.

Destinations can be countries, or a collection of countries, a distinct state, local government or town or resort, park or areas of outstanding natural beauty or coastline like the Eleko, Lagos and Badagry Beaches.

The key features of a tourist destination which the State will look into include visitors’ attractions like historical and heritage sites, man-made and natural environment; Access or possible provision of access; Internal transport network; development of tourist infrastructure and superstructure; and that the destination is administratively possible to plan and manage.

As one of the major pull factors in the proposed designated destinations, I want to suggest the construction of divisional ethnographic museum in each of the five divisions of the State with a policy to encourage and empower local governments in the State to build their own museums and develop heritage sites within their areas.

Other superstructures can also be constructed as part of the pull factors in the destinations. Examples of superstructures are Canadian Tower, Statue of Liberty in US, Brighton pier in London etc. The proposed Badagry Film City project by Lagos State is also an example.

Development of local and international festivals in the State is key. The Black Heritage Festival should be replaced with IBILE HERTAGE FESTIVAL. The latter has lost all the essence of being a festival as originally conceived.

The word IBILE is an acronym for the five divisions of Lagos State: Ikorodu, Badagry, Ikeja, Lagos Island and Epe. Lagosians, for the first time, will regard it as their festival and participation level will increase geometrically.

To make the festival international such as the PANEFEST in Ghana, the ROOT Festival in Gambia and Vodoun Festival in Republic of Benin, there is the need to create the Lagos State Diaspora Agency responsible for the marketing of the festival and the tourism potentials of the State internationally and seek the cooperation and partnership of International Organisations for tourism development in the State.

The Agency will create a healthy synergy with the existing tour operator outfits within the State.

Tourism Departments should be created in all the Local Governments in the State with principle of Sustainable Tourism as the focus.

The functions of this department will include collection of data on available heritage materials or sites in their respective local governments.

Create tourists Information office; coordinates and implement the State’s programmes on tourism at the local government level; facilitate trainings of stake holders and create a linkage between the tourism sector and the open market in their areas.

Resuscitate indigenous technology in visual arts, painting, carving, woodwork, textile, sculpting, pottery, ceramics, weaving and crafts, bead-making etc.

The creation of a full-fledge Department of Tourism at the Lagos State University for capacity building in this sector is germane.

The State can as well develop a partnership with certain international organisations or agencies who are experts in the subject matter for capacity building. These organisations have done it in many African countries especially the Gambia.

The role of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture in the State is key and pivotal in the realisation of this entire proposal and its objectives.