Lagos Tourism Woos the World

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Group Photo: Lagos State Governor Akunwunmi Ambode,; UNWTO Secretary-General, Zurab Pololikashvili; Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed and Lagos State Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Steve Ayorinde, with the other delegates from UNWTO. By Adedeji Olalekan

Lagos State has hosted international delegates of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO). Led by the body’s Secretary-General, Zurab Pololikashvili. The group was on a technical visit to the state on June 6, the final aspect of its 61st CAF (Commission for Africa) meeting, which held in Abuja.   

“This is the best part of our visit to Nigeria,” Zurab Pololikashvili says within hours of his arrival from Abuja with 100 representatives from 34 countries. “We’re here to promote Lagos to the world as a new tourism destination.”

If any state in Nigeria deserves this recognition and applause, it is Lagos. Almost no week/ month passes without “the city of aquatic splendour” making a statement that it is the next big thing to happen to Nigeria’s tourism.

In the past 24 months, the government has invested continuously in the creative and hospitality sectors as a way to boost recreation activities in the state. That investment includes the building of six theatres across the state’s five divisions.

“I am happy to say that four of the theatres will be ready this year–in Epe, Badagry, Opebi and one in Igando,”  says Steve Ayorinde, Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, in a recent interview with Wakaabout Online.

Earlier in March, the state released a year-long calendar of events, designed to help residents and tourists identify activities of interest, which they can then plan to attend. And in Mid-April, it hosted a show stopping tourism summit, headlined by Ghana former president, John Mahama.

Performance by the Lagos State Cultural Troupe. (By Adedeji Olalekan)

With its eyes on the global market, and to sell the state as a go-to set location for film shoots, Lagos Tourism, for the second time, had its own pavillion at the 71st Cannes International Film Festival, which held last May.

Lagos is the home of “Nollywood” (as Nigeria’s world-renowned film industry is often called).

Governor Akinwunmi Ambode says Lagos is very much a work in progress, referring to the ongoing constructions and facilities’ upgrade his government is implementing statewide.

“The ultimate goal is that these infrastructure will make people spend their little weekend or holidays in Lagos and the state gets to make more money from taxes,” he adds, stressing that Africa is the least travelled continent in the world yet has some of the most fascinating places, most yet untapped. “Anything that binds or helps integrate the continent, that’s where we should go.”

The delegates would later be taken on a tour of the city, including stops at the futuristic Eko Atlantic City and Freedom Park, a former colonial prison that’s now a multi-faceted theme park.