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    After losing its Lagos beachside, Nigeria’s Landmark beach developer set to expand into Gambia

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    Nigeria’s Landmark Africa is working on plans to build two new West African beach properties. This is coming after it lost its Lagos beachside real estate to controversial government plans for a coastal highway.

    According to Semafor Africa, Chief Executive Paul Onwuanibe said the company had received separate invitations, including one from the Gambian government and from three state governments in Nigeria’s southeast, to develop waterfront leisure hubs aimed at boosting tourism in those places.

    The two commissioned projects include a development proposed in Akwa Ibom, an oil-producing Nigerian state by the edge of the Atlantic ocean. It is expected to open before the end of the year while the Gambia project “will take a little bit longer,” he said.

    The new developments, for which MOUs have been signed, will be wholly funded by Landmark at $5 million each while the land comes from the government partners. “My team met with the Gambian President’s envoy including the First Lady today to finalize plans,” Onwuanibe told Semafor Africa on Friday. Akwa Ibom’s tourism commissioner, Charles Udoh, said on May 10 that the state was “seeking a partnership” with the company to develop a section of its shoreline for tourism.

    Landmark is also “looking at a number of sites in Lagos” to build another leisure property. But that may be challenging because “we have not received any compensation yet” from the Nigerian government for its beach that was demolished, the CEO said. Nigeria knocked down leisure and entertainment structures on the Landmark beach in April, drawing the ire of tourism industry watchers who questioned the wisdom in destroying “the biggest tourism spot in Lagos” to build a road.

    Visited by locals and international tourists, the beach was also a music concert venue, hosting performances by Nigeria’s leading artists over the years, including superstars Davido and Wizkid. Besides the beach, the broader space is a 9,000 sq. meter boulevard that includes a mall, event center, restaurants and cafes, including the Hard Rock Cafe chain. Landmark has owned the property since 2007. Nigerian government officials said the beach was on the path of a proposed 700-kilometer highway that would connect the country’s southwest through Lagos to Calabar in the east. A notice for the beach’s demolition was served in March.

    The highway, designed to have five lanes on each side, is estimated to cost $11 billion and be completed in eight years. It will be built by Hitech, a company owned by the Chagoury Group whose Lebanese-Nigerian proprietors are long-time allies of Bola Tinubu, the Nigerian president. The firm’s previous work in Nigeria includes Eko Atlantic City, a development modeled after Dubai and built on land reclaimed from the Atlantic Ocean.

    Alexander’s view

    The ease with which Nigeria did away with arguably the most acclaimed leisure property in its largest city — even as the government talks up its drive for foreign investment — offered little assurance that the country sees itself as a destination for tourism investment. It is also evidence of the risks associated with long-term real estate investment in the country. At the same time, demand from elsewhere in Africa for tourism investment shows the prospects for the sector.

    International tourism receipts into Africa have tripled to at least $35 billion since the early 2000s, according to the World Bank. Despite restrictions caused by the pandemic, travel and tourism in Africa is projected to grow 6.5% annually over the next decade, the World Travel and Tourism Council said. That would add $168 billion to the economy in that period. Only the Middle East performed better than Africa in the first nine months of 2023 in terms of recovering to pre-pandemic levels of international tourism arrivals, the UN World Tourism Organisation said.

    African countries with a coastline hold advantages over their landlocked counterparts in the jostle for tourism investments. And intentional governments may have an even greater advantage in the long run. Onwuanibe is eager to take up the invitation to replicate Landmark’s success in The Gambia, a country of 2 million people with a well developed tourism hub relative to its size. Even if the country has a lower purchasing power than Lagos, he told me the country’s authorities have something his home city does not yet have: “They want to be a tourist destination and they create an environment that’s right for tourism.”

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    HMCA 2024 to gather Tourism Minister, 400 African hoteliers, 15 African countries in Lagos

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    HMCA 2024 to gather Tourism Minister, 400 African hoteliers, 15 African countries in Lagos

    The stage is set this week for the opening of this year’s annual Hotel Managers and Conference and Awards (HMCA) 2024, with Lola Ade-John, Nigerian Tourism Minister, leading delegates from over 15 African countries and 400 participants across Nigeria to Lagos for the hospitality industry gathering.

    It will be held from July 13 -14, 2024 at the Lagos Continental Hotel, with the theme; Innovative Strategies: Nurturing Resilience and Excellence in Guest Experience in African Hospitality.

    Ade-John is the chief host and is expected to deliver an address to the August gathering on Nigeria’s agenda for the industry, while over 400 participants from across Nigeria are signed up for the two-day gathering. For the first time, the event will attract delegates from African countries with over 15 countries registered for the event.

    The countries include; Kenya, Botswana, Uganda, Cameroon, Ghana, South Africa, and Rwanda. Also, attending the event are delegates from the United Kingdom.

    It is the sixth edition of the yearly conference convened by Olugbenga Omotayo Sunday, director general, Hotel Managers Conference – Africa.

    According to Sunday, ‘‘The Hotel Managers Conference and Awards was envisioned for hotel managers in Africa for skills upgrade, networking and hotel job opportunities.

    ‘‘It recognises the important roles hotel staff play in sustaining standards in Africa and globally. Hence, the conference seeks to upgrade hotel business operations in Nigeria and Africa to match what is obtainable in other hotels internationally.’’

    “Our core focus is building capacities in the human resources across hospitality brands in Africa both international and Indigenous brands, in administration and general operations standards.’’

    On the choice of the theme for this year, Sunday, who is also lead consultant at Tojum Hospitality, noted, “In the dynamic landscape of hospitality, innovation becomes the cornerstone for fostering resilience and achieving excellence in guest experience. This conference will unravel groundbreaking strategies that go beyond conventional approaches.

    ‘‘From harnessing cutting-edge technologies to cultivating a resilient mindset, attendees will explore how innovation becomes the catalyst for elevating guest experiences to unprecedented levels.’’

    Some of the speakers expected at the conference’s panel sessions include; Karl Hala, group general manager, Continental Hotels in Nigeria; Olufemi Abayomi, CEO/founder, Nethermentor, regional chairman, Institute of Hospitality (UK) Nigeria Region; Lydia Akuna, lecturer, Department of Hotel and Hospitality Management, Moi University-Eldoret, Kenya; Michael Pinder, general manager, JS Signature Hotel, Port Harcourt; Ekene Nnabuihe, group chief executive officer, Boulevard Hotel Group Lagos; Justina Ovat, national president, Women In Hospitality Nigeria; Molly Apion, chairperson, Hotel General Manager’s Association, Uganda and general manager, Arch Apartments and Hotel, Uganda; and Amir M. Adamu, founder and executive director, Hospitality Innovation and Leadership Forum, Cameroon.

    The conference, which will climax with the Hotel Managers Awards Night, on the second day of the event, has as headline sponsor; LG Electronics Nigeria and idsnext as co-headline sponsor as well while other sponsors include; Lagos Continental, Providus Bank, Radisson Hotel Group, Wakanow, Old English, BusyRooms, Nigerian Bottling Company, Ikogosi Resorts, Presken Hotels Group, Eko Hotels and Suites and Bizedge.

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    Afropolis, a 9 day cultural event set to hold in Lagos

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    Afropolis, a 9 day cultural event set to hold in Lagos

    In partnership with a dance company, Q Dance, Lagos State Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture would be staging a cultural event tagged:”Afropolis” which would run for 9 days at Onikan, Lagos Island.

    According to the lead organiser of the event and brain behind Q Dance, Qudus Onikeku, at a town hall meeting held at J.Randle Centre for Yoruba Culture and History, Onikan, on Wednesday, 10th July 2024, the event which would be running between October 26th and November 3rd, would be a world-class cultural event that would showcase talents, ideas and creativity in which technology would also play a key role.

    Speaking further, Onikeku explained that his Q Dance Company is a pre-eminent creative agency that uses dance, music and creativity as capacities for human development, operating as a community centre in Lagos, Nigeria. And it, therefore, was not a surprise that Onikeku could come up with such a concept like Afropolis in collaboration with the Lagos State Government.

    Explaining the concept of Afropolis further, Onikeku said, ” it is proposing an Afrocentric technocultural approach for future making, through collaboration between emerging technologies and emerging artists, who perceive technology not as a solution but as a tool for understanding and imagining a balanced future.”

    And on collaborating with the Lagos State Government on the project, Onikeku rationalised that, ” sincerely, this is an idea and project that we cannot execute alone due to the huge financial implications. I appreciate Governor Babajide Olusola Sanwoolu, through the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, and Culture for being a partner. This indicates a government that is ready to support the youths and help them grow.”

    In her keynote address towards the tail end of the town hall meeting, the Lagos State Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mrs. Toke Benson-Awoyinka, emphasised that, “Afropolis is not just an event; it is a celebration of our rich cultural heritage, creativity, and innovation. It is a platform where African creatives can come together to showcase their talents, exchange ideas, and collaborate on groundbreaking projects. This festival is a testament to the vibrant and dynamic spirit of our continent.”

    Speaking further, the elegant Commissioner asserted that, “Lagos, as the host city, is proud to be at the forefront of this cultural revolution. Our city is renowned as the largest black cultural melting pot in the world, and we continue to lead in various creative sectors such as music, fashion, gaming, tech, design, film, dance, AI, and research. Our young talents are making significant strides on the global stage, and events like Afropolis provide them with the visibility and opportunities they deserve.

    “Over the past few years, the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, and Culture has been committed to supporting and nurturing our creative industries. We have made significant investments in infrastructure, such as renovating key cultural sites and establishing new venues for arts and performances. These efforts ensure that our artists have the platforms they need to thrive.

    “The essence of AFROPOLIS lies in its ability to bring together a diverse array of creative minds. Imagine the vibrant fusion of traditional and modern expressions that will be on display, from indigenous crafts to cutting-edge digital art. This melting pot of ideas and talents promises to be an unforgettable experience for both participants and attendees.

    “As we gather here today, it is also important to reflect on the historical significance of Onikan. This area has long been a cultural hub, and hosting Afropolis here is a fitting tribute to its legacy. The J.Randle Centre for Yoruba Culture and History, in particular, stands as a beacon of our rich heritage and offers the perfect backdrop for this celebration.” She explained.

    There was a question and answer session before the town hall meeting moderated by popular stand-up comedian, Gbenga Adeyinka, came to a close.

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    Lagos to hold pan-African carnival, ‘Afropolis’, to boost tourism

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    Lagos to hold pan-African carnival, ‘Afropolis’, to boost tourism

    The Lagos State Government is set to hold the maiden edition of a pan-African carnival, ‘Afropolis’, for the promotion of black cultural heritage, creativity and innovation.

    Mrs Toke Benson-Awoyinka, the state Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, who disclosed this during a Town Hall meeting in Lagos, said the Ministry was collaborating with Qudus Onikeku, a multimodal international artiste.

    She said the goal of Afropolis, slated for Oct. 26 to Nov. 3, was to foster collaboration, inspire innovation, celebrate the diverse traditions and creativity of Africa as well as boost tourism.

    Benson-Awoyinka said the carnival was a platform for African creatives to come together to showcase their talents, exchange ideas and collaborate on groundbreaking projects as well as create truly unique things.

    According to her, the festival will feature a curated marketplace, traditional and contemporary performances, exhibitions, and much more.

    She said it would bring together creatives, innovators, and enthusiasts from across the continent and beyond, thereby boosting tourism.

    “Afropolis is not just an event but a celebration of our rich cultural heritage, creativity, and innovation of Lagos state.

    “Lagos, as the host city, is proud to be at the forefront of this cultural revolution. Our city is renowned as the largest black cultural melting pot in the world, and we continue to lead in various creative sectors such as music, fashion, gaming, tech, design, film, dance, AI, and research.

    “Our young talents are making significant strides on the global stage, and events like Afropolis provide them with the visibility and opportunities they deserve.

    “The essence of Afropolis lies in its ability to bring together a diverse array of creative minds.

    “Imagine the vibrant fusion of traditional and modern expressions that will be on display, from indigenous crafts to cutting-edge digital art,” she said.

    According to her, Afropolis will be held at J.Randle Centre for Yoruba Culture and History, located around the Onikan suburb of Lagos, known as the third coolest neighbourhood in the world in 2019.

    She explained that the Afropolis carnival would transform Onikan’s main street—J. Randle Road—into a vibrant hub of artistic and technological excellence.

    Giving more details on the event, Onikeku said that Afropolis would be a pan-African gathering of creatives and curious people.

    According to him, it seeks to promote African culture for economic competitiveness.

    Highlighting programmes of the nine-day event, Onikeku said Afropolis would feature a maker fair, pop up fashion stores, arts and craft market and live performances.

    He said that other features included street arts, street food, street vendors, music concerts, Djsets, master classes, meetings and networking other speed pitches.

    “The rest are talks and round tables, gaming, innovation, exhibition, children playground and urban culture display,” he said.

    According to him, Afropolis will also see a range of smaller break-outs as well as highly interactive sessions and master classes focused on topics across creative sectors.

    Onikeku said: “It is projected that Afropolis will attract more than 1,000 creatives and exhibitors from aArica and the diaspora.

    “We also expect more than 20,000 visitors, buyers and delegates from Africa, the diaspora and the rest of the world.

    “It provides a platform for young talents to showcase their ideas, and stimulate economic growth for local vendors, artisans and global African creatives to showcase their product or services.

    “It will position Lagos as a hub for technology, creativity and innovation by leveraging the festival to showcase African advancements in art, tech, gaming, design, fashion and other creative fields.”

    He said that Afropolis would ensure that creatives were able to meet and network, and also meet with buyers, potential partners and investors.

    Onikeku said Afropolis had the potential to ensure long-term economic and cultural benefits for local businesses and residents.

    Michael Deecan, Netherlands Consul General in Nigeria, said, “This is a laudable initiative and I am looking forward to the event in October.”

    Also, Blessing Azubike, Senior Programmes Manager, CC Hub, one of the partners for the carnival, expressed excitement being on the project.

    Azubike said, “We are passionate about anything co-creation which is what we are on board to do, we will be serving on the technology component of the gathering.”

    Ajibade Adewale, Group Head, Partnerships, Wema Bank, assured revellers of safety with their finances in the course of business transactions during Afropolis carnival.

    “We will ensure your transaction is taken care of digitally, we are also there to guarantee that your money is safe with CC Hub because we are partnering with them as well.”

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