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Our Tourism Master Plan’ll make Lagos major tourism destination in Africa – Commissioner

Ayodele Olalere

Lagos State Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Pharm. (Mrs.) Uzamat Akinbile-Yussuf, on Monday, said the state through the Ministry has mapped out plans to position the state as a major tourism destination in Africa where the private sector can confidently invest their resources to advance the State’s tourism and entertainment sector.

While presenting the account of stewardship of Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu’s administration in the tourism and entertainment sector in the last two years at the Bagauda Kaltho Press Centre, Alausa, Uzamat said the development of a Tourism Master Plan that will serve as a pathway for the implementation of every tourism activity in the State is ongoing, adding that the document, when completed, would change the narrative in the state’s tourism sector and ensure uniformity of government programmes, plans and policies in the development of tourism.

She described the document as a worthwhile achievements under the administration of Governor Sanwo-Olu since two years ago, in addition to other tourism infrastructure being out in place simultaneously in different parts of the state.

The Master Plan, she further said, would eradicate  the era of haphazard development of tourism activities in the state as witnessed in the past.

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“There will now be a structured guideline that must be followed for short, medium and long term tourism activities and projects.

“Apart from this, some areas of tourism activities that have not been given attention before has now been captured in the Master Plan and this will engender all-round development of every aspect of tourism in the coming years.

She explained that more attention would be given to the development of the state’s Waterfront for Tourism purposes under Beach and Leisure captured in the Tourism Master Plan, the exploration of medical TOURISM, focus on MICE (Meetings, incentives, Conferences and Exhibition) among others, she said.

She added: “We have equally identified the business side of entertainment and tourism. Beyond using tourism and entertainment as a vehicle for fun, relaxation and social integration, entertainment and Tourism remain a major source of income generation for different countries and cities of the world and we will also leverage on this aspect to boost the State’s IGR.

“We believe in creating an enduring atmosphere for Tourism activities to thrive, being a majorly private-sector driven sector. It is our belief that when businesses operate under the right atmosphere, the economic activities of the State would increase and the resources at the disposal of government would also be impacted greatly.”

She said that within the last one year, which is the second year of the present administration, the Ministry had made appreciable progress in positioning Entertainment and tourism to occupy its rightful position.

Akinbile-Yussuf said: “We have maintained a better relationship with our stakeholders, developed policies that would guide tourism activities and also implemented programmes and projects as it relates to the fulfilment of the fifth pillar of the THEMES agenda of the administration of Governor Olusola Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

The Commissioner further said discovery of new tourist sites will boost domestic tourism in the state.

According to her, the outbreak of coronavirus in 2020 further underscored the need to focus on the development of inherent tourism potentials in the State, considering the effect of the embargo placed on international tourists last year following the outbreak of the deadly virus globally.

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The Commissioner revealed that new tourism sites were recently discovered in Badagry, Epe and Alimosho areas of the State, assuring that the new tourism sites would be developed and harnessed to international standard to attract international tourists.

Apart from the new tourism potentials discovered, Akinbile-Yussuf also hinted that new heritage sites were equally discovered in Ikorodu area of the State, saying that the State Government would take over the management and development of the heritage sites as a way of boosting heritage tourism activities.

She promised that efforts would be intensified to discover more tourism potentials that abounds in other divisions of the State through constant visitations to the State’s hinterland and engagement with stakeholders in different communities across the State.

On other efforts made to boost tourism and creative activities in the State, the Commissioner said that the administration of Babajide Sanwo-Olu has renovated the Lagos Glover Memorial Hall, which is one of the oldest theatre halls in Lagos, and very well known for hosting plays, dance drama, concerts and other historical performances.

She informed that the iconic project, which is now wearing a new look on Customs Street of Lagos Island was completed, fully furnished and officially commissioned by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu in March, 2021 after which the Ministry engaged a temporary Facility Manager to oversee the management of the Hall.

In the same vein, Pharm. Akinbile-Yussuf also disclosed that construction works on a major infrastructural project which will serve Tourism, cultural and artistic purposes in the State, J. K Randle Centre for Yoruba Culture and History is nearing completion and would be completed in the last quarter of 2021.

Upon completion,  the Centre would change the aesthetic of the cultural hub of Lagos Island, Onikan to be precise.

“J. K Randle Centre is an edifice of cultural, ethnographic, historical, and anthropological education and elucidation of Lagos and the Yoruba race in general.

“The Ministry, including other relevant supervisory arm of the government, especially the Ministry of works have paid both scheduled and unscheduled visits to the site of the project to ensure the project is delivered to specifications. As we speak, major works on this project has been finalised, the remaining works would be completed very soon. “