Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, represented by his Deputy, Idiat Oluranti Adedibu, on Tuesday said the stark realities of the current economic recession could be a blessing if concerted efforts are geared toward harnessing other critical sectors such as tourism apart from the major focus on oil.
The Deputy Governor, who spoke at the National Tourism Conference held at Eko Atlantic City (EAC) in Lagos in commemoration of the World Tourism Day, said the current economic situation offered an opportunity for the country to re-order economic priorities and develop other revenue generating channels.
She said the conference, which was organized by the Federal Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, was a necessary and strategic decision that would enhance the prospects of diversifying the revenue generation channels of the country for the development and growth of national economy.
She added that there are components States blessed with natural tourism sites which could be developed to harness opportunities that would generate wealth and create jobs for the people.
While alluding to a recent study by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) which projected that the travel and tourism industry in Nigeria would contribute 1.6 percent directly to the Gross Domestic product (GDP) of the country by 2024 which in absolute terms represented N1.366billion, and 1,194,000 direct employment, Governor Ambode advocated the development of framework for the industry, especially the creation of incentives for investors.
“The potentials of this sector can only be harnessed if we create the right environment for investment to thrive. We must open up the sector through incentives, attractive policies as well as the provision of world class infrastructure,” the Governor said.
He said Lagos, as a coastal location, is blessed with unbroken 283 kilometers of coastline apart from other tourism potentials, adding that his administration remained focused on the goal of making the State the hub of tourism and entertainment in Africa.
Apart from taking opportunity of events and celebrations to showcase the rich culture and heritage of Lagos to the world, Governor Ambode said his administration also adopted Project THESE meaning Tourism, Hospitality, Entertainment and Sports for Excellence, all geared towards harnessing the potentials of the tourism sector for the benefit of the people.
On his part, Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Alhaji Lai Mohammed commended former Governors of Lagos State – Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, and the incumbent, Governor Ambode, for the vision to commence and continue the EAC Project which has the capacity to accommodate 450,000 residents and 300,000 commuters upon completion.
He said the project has all it takes to drive tourism in Nigeria, adding that the city is not just the future of Africa but the world.