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At Akwaaba 2018, Lagos restates commitment to tourism development

Fola Adeyemi, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (left) Kunle Afolayan, Board member Lagos State Council for Arts and Culture, Mr Nkechi Uko convener, Akwaaba Africa Travel Market, Mr Steve Ayorinde, Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mrs Joke Silva, Board member Lagos State Council for Arts and Culture and Van Vicker, Ghanian movie star at the celebration of Lagos Day at Akwaaba Africa Travel Market

Being the host city for the yearly Akwaaba Africa Travel Market, it is only natural for Lagos State Government to be part of the event that brings together exhibitors and stakeholders from the travel and tourism sectors of Africa and beyond.

However, this year, Lagos took their support a notch higher by throwing its weight behind the tourism project, making it the first time the state would support the hosting of Akwaaba on a prominent scale since its inception in 2004.

Aside from setting up an exhibition stand that showcased the State’s tourism potentials, almost all staff of the Lagos State Ministry of Tourism Arts and Culture, including the Commissioner Steve Ayorinde, were present at the event that ended on Tuesday at the Eko Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos, with Lagos Day celebration.

For the state, it was an opportunity to showcase the state’s tourism offerings, as well as build relationship with international tour operators, who attended the event.

Speaking at the event, governor Akinwunmi Ambode restated his commitment to enhance the economic fortunes of the State by deepening tourism infrastructure development and providing world-class tourism assets across the state.

The Governor equally stated that “collaborating with private sector organisations on tourism related programmes is borne out of his administration genuine commitment to engage and give access to interested business organizations to the untapped tourism potentials of the state”
    
The Governor, who was represented by the Commissioner for Tourism Arts and Culture Mr. Steve Ayorinde provided a reason for the state support and collaboration, saying, “our decision to collaborate with the organisers of this event was borne out of the present administration’s genuine commitment to engage the private sector in the growth and development of the tourism sector of the state and give access to interested organizations to the untapped tourism potentials of the state”.

Ambode reminded the audience that, “at the inception of this administration, we did not mince words regarding our commitment to drive development through tourism and invest in sectors that will grow our economy’s capacity as a result of our mission to build greater Lagos State”.
      
On the strategic development of infrastructure and the provision of tourism attractions across the state, the Governor justified the administration’s effort, adding, “we are conscious of the fact that provisions of infrastructure and security of the polity for our stakeholders are fundamental ingredients for tourism development.
      
He further stated “Over the last three years the state government has invested heavily in key infrastructure projects like new network of roads, provisions of monuments, improvement of our beaches, building of the five standard theaters, museums etc.

    
“One of the ongoing key projects, which we deliberately decided to undertake given its strategic importance to tourism promotion, is the Airport road; it’s planned to be a world class road infrastructure that will be a delight to visitors to Lagos State and Nigeria,” he said.
  
The Governor assured that his administration would continue to encourage and promote private sector’s investment towards tourism promotion, saying, “We recognise Lagos, as a destination of choice that is blessed with natural and rich cultural heritage. For this reason, we will continue to deepen partnerships with all stakeholders in the state’s tourism space to ensure our competitiveness as a vibrant tourism destination”
   
The Akwaaba Travel Market founded by Mr Nkechi Uko is a major marketing platform where airlines, travel agents, hotels, tourism boards, both foreign and local, media and general travelling public in Africa meet to rub minds, and share views on development.
  
The Lagos Day event also provided the state Government an opportunity to share information about potential tourism investment opportunities in the state.

Various papers were presented by the Lagos State team on Epe, the emerging get-away haven, Badagry, the essence is more than a whisper and a peep into Lagos State Tourism master plan was provided by Messrs Enrst and Young.
  
Mrs. Bolanle Austen-Peters did a presentation on Eko theatre, public art, installations and the partnership that works, while the audience equally had an insight into the Eko Park Project and the shape of things to come on the ongoing Onikan tourism hub.
   
Other dignitaries at the well-attended event includes Mr. Fola Adeyemi Permanent Secretary Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Otunba Segun Runsewe, Director General National Council for Arts and culture, notable movie artistes from Ghana and Nigeria including Mr. Van Vicker, Joke Silver, Kunle Afolayan and others.

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