Tour guides are destination ambassadors for Lagos, says Akinbile-Yusuf
Focused towards a sustainable and inclusive tourism that enhances visitors’ experience in the state, the Lagos State Ministry of Tourism Arts and Culture has partnered Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) in order to transform the tourism landscape with 150 trained tour guides.
Tour guides act as destination ambassadors and require a specific set of skills to effectively communicate the essence of a destination and an attraction in a friendly manner tailored to the visitor, whether they are a solo-traveler, a family or a group of business delegates who want to know more about what Lagos has to offer for recreation, leisure and business. This also offers a well defined specialist career path open to all irrespective of age and background.
The Lagos State Government unveiled the revised tourism master plan and policy in July 2021, with human capital development identified as one of the strategic themes to improve service quality in the tourism industry in line with global industry standards.
The tour guide training programme delivered with Red Clay, a specialist tourism advisory practice in partnership with the LSETF was launched in September 2021 and has provided world-class tour guide training to 100 of the 150 participants.
Around the world, historians, academics, archaeologists, travel writers and other professionals with a deep knowledge and passion for the destinations, offer tour-guiding services to a diverse clientele.
In her remark the Honorable Commissioner of Tourism, Arts and Culture in Lagos State, Mrs. Uzamat Akinbile-Yussuf during the launch of the programme, said this is the first state-empowered intensive training programme with a formalised curriculum dedicated to tour guiding in Nigeria. “Its first-of-its-kind initiative in Nigeria. Lagos State is making efforts to promote domestic tourism and market its tourism sites to the world, it is important that we have a standardised structure in place, which will enable tour guides to attend to tourists in a professional manner. The six-week tour guide training programme is designed to equip 150 selected tour guides with the necessary tools to design and guide tours. The skills and knowledge gained from the programme can also be used in other customer-facing sectors of the tourism industry, thereby contributing to the development of tourism in the State.”
The Executive Secretary of LSETF, Teju Abisoye said: “The partnership with Lagos State Ministry of Tourism Arts and Culture is a strategic approach for LSETF because of the level of impact it will make in boosting the tourism sector and creating jobs which is a core mandate for the fund. Skills acquisition and empowerment are a necessity to grow the economy, and this will contribute greatly to the tourism business of Lagos State.”
Senior Advisor at Red Clay Dr. Adun Okupe said: the road ahead is still long, as there were over 1,800 applications for 150 places. This demonstrates the need for skills development in the industry. Human capital development is key to sustainable tourism and any tourism development plan, without the right people to implement, is merely a really nice wish list. I am thankful that we have been able to deliver world-class tour guide training together with our facilitators who are established in the tourism industry.”
A lawyer and training participant simply addressed as Rotimi said: “Being a lawyer by profession, I did not know what to expect when I applied for the programme and was selected. I must commend the quality of the training – the facilitators, the depth of the courses taught, the workspace, the experiential tours and the hands-on sessions that were tailored to suit our everyday business needs.”
Recently retired civil servant Mrs. Celestina who registered for the programme as a means to explore her business options after retirement, also said: “The most exciting part of the training for me was the group tour to Isale Eko House. The rich history and cultural heritage inherent in that community is amazing. Imagine passing through Isale Eko regularly for shopping and business without knowing the deep stories that exist in it. I appreciate the organisers for the opportunity to be part of this programme.”
At the certificate presentation ceremony for the September and November batch where participants were certified as licensed tour guides in Lagos State, some recipients of the programme shared their experiences. Ifeoma, a mental health therapist and life coach, spoke about the importance of the tour guide-training programme. She said: “Having lived in Lagos for several years, I was so surprised to discover that there are so many tourist attractions and destinations within Lagos State, so many that you would have to be specific about creating your packages and choosing a niche to focus on. She also revealed her plans to explore and use tourism as mental health therapy for business executives and professionals going through a lot of mental stress.”
Across West Africa, there is growing appreciation for tourism development, destinations are springing up, however there is a lack of a concerted labour market analysis to identify where the skills gaps are and develop capability needed for the success of these destinations.
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