Veteran Comedian Atunyota Akpobome, popularly known as “Ali Baba” and other stakeholders on Wednesday enumerated the way forward for tourism growth in Lagos State post COVID-19.
The stakeholders spoke during a virtual zoom meeting organised by the Lagos State Ministry of Tourism, with the theme: “Resetting the Tourism Sector in Lagos State”.
The comedian said that for the state to be properly positioned for growth, there was need to put in place the needed infrastructure that would drive tourism.
He also advised on organising competitions around entertainment, tourism and culture to attract tourists into the state which would also drive the entertainment economy.
“Lagos is a cosmopolitan state already, with capture of people across the world meaning we have a representation of those to look into Lagos tourism.
“What to be done is to ensure that the needed infrastructure are put in place to drive tourism, like building high-rise sites where people can view some segments of the state.
“We need more art galleries; when President Macron of France visited Lagos, he asked for where local fabrics are sold, we should have places where our local fabrics, arts and crafts are constantly exhibited,” he said.
Also, a Hotel Consultant, Mr Dayo Adesugba, advised the state government to create tourism lottery and special funds for tourism stakeholders as a way to revitalise the industry post-COVID-19.
He said the state government must also think of upgrading tourism sites within the state which were not attractive enough to woo tourists.
Adesugba said that security had been an issue of concern to most tourism practitioners, adding that the state government needed to work on beefing up security to rekindle the confidence of tourists.
“We need to rekindle that sense of security in every intending tourist just by making sure we have effective tourism security personnel in place.
“There should be training and retraining of tourism practitioners and also creation of tourism fund to assist those engaged in small and medium scale tourism businesses to remain in business post-COVID-19,” he said.
Mr Bankole Bernard, former President, National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies (NANTA), drew the attention of the state to untapped potential of religious tourism dominant in the state.
He also called for proper tourism education for Lagos residents to understand what tourism means as most people lacked tourism knowledge.
“We have a market for religious tourism growing on a daily basis and we seem not to identify with it.
“Along the whole of Lagos-Ibadan expressway are religious organisations with different programmes held on a daily basis, this is a form of religious tourism we are not grooming.
“Lagos State government need to educate residents on what tourism means and areas they could invest,” he said.
Another tourism practitioner, Mrs Tayo Oladaisi, called for the resuscitation of traditional storytelling culture which was capable of preserving nation’s culture and indigenous languages, among others.
She urged the youths to embrace business ideas in tourism value chain as the industry remained fertile.
Mrs Uzamat Akinbile-Yusuf, Lagos State Commissioner of Tourism, Arts and Culture, appreciated the participants for their brilliant contributions toward the success of the meeting.
She said the state would continue to ensure the security of Lagos residents and visitors relating to tourism.
Akinbike-Yusuf encouraged the stakeholders to work together with the ministry to ensure a common goal of boosting the tourism industry was achieved in due course.
“We will continue to ensure the security of the state. We can together create wealth and employment with tourism. When tourism and entertainment activities are heightened, crime rate will be reduced.
“I appreciate you all for taking out time for this, let’s continue to stay safe and be hopeful that the final ease of the lockdown will start soon,” she said.
Edited By: Chidinma Agu/Wale Ojetimi (NAN)