Secretary-General of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), Zurab Pololikashvili, on Wednesday said that Lagos would play a pivotal role in the organisation’s quest to promote new tourism destinations across the world.
Mr Pololikashvili, who made this known when he led a high powered delegation, consisting of eight ministers of tourism and representatives from 44 countries across Africa on a courtesy visit to the Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, said the technical visit to the state, as part of the activities for the just concluded 61st UNWTO/CAF Meeting in Abuja, was a pointer to the role Lagos would play in developing tourism in the continent.
Describing the visit to Lagos as the best part of the meeting, the UNWTO scribe said, “We are here to promote new tourism destinations. You can count on us, thanks to you, to promote this fantastic place. Thanks for receiving us and rest assured that Lagos will be one of the most important parts of our strategy branding.”
Responding, Governor Ambode said the massive investment in infrastructural renewal by his administration was a well thought out strategy to position Lagos as a tourism hub.
He said his administration was not unmindful of the massive economic benefits yet untapped from the tourism sector, adding that conscious efforts are being made to maximise the potentials for the benefit of the people.
“We believe that with the kind of population and the market that Lagos has, we must start to create tourism infrastructure to be able to grow the economy, that’s why as you move across Lagos, you would observe that it is technically a construction site; from the airport and as you go on the bridges and also when you go to the Eko Atlantic City.
“But the ultimate goal is that these infrastructure will now drive people to come and spend their weekend here, just the way you have decided to spend your Wednesday here in Lagos and the government gets some form of revenue from taxes when people use our hotels.
“So there is a cycle of development that tourism tries to drive and that is why we have continuously supported whatever has to do with tourism and let me reiterate also that we would continue to support everything tourism because anything that can integrate and bound the continent together, that’s where we should go because we are the next story,” Ambode said.
He said a UN report in 2016 showed that 86 people enter into Lagos every one hour, with only Mumbai coming close with 79, followed by New York and London with seven and nine respectively, adding that it was a viable opportunity to use tourism to drive human and capital development.
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, thanked Ambode for his support towards the hosting of the 61st UNWTO/CAF Meeting in Nigeria, saying that it was largely responsible for the success of the event.
“Without the generous support and cooperation of Lagos State this 61st UNWTO/CAF Meeting would not have been possible. When I ran into difficulties it was my brother that I came to and he bailed me out. I remain eternally grateful to you and Nigeria is very grateful to you because your support has made the Meeting successful,” the minister said.