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    The fresh push for tourism in Lagos

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    IN contemporary time, tourism can be clearly defined as the new socio-economic game changer. The economic potential of tourism is remarkable, with direct and indirect impact on wealth creation. Cities like Bangkok, London, Paris, Nairobi, Dubai and New York City are top global tourists’ destinations. African countries like Kenya, Tanzania, Egypt and South Africa are vigorously tapping into the expansive global tourism market.

    However, in Nigeria, tourism is still in its infancy. This is largely due to years of the oil boom and over-dependence on the revenue from the sale of crude oil as well as weak infrastructure. However, in Lagos State, the Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration is creatively making efforts to tap into the state’s enormous tourism potential.

    Since his first term in office, Sanwo-Olu has demonstrated a strong resolve to reposition the tourism and entertainment industry in the state. This is based on his conviction that, if properly structured, the sector has huge potential for wealth and job creation. This, of course, is a stark reality. In America, for instance, the entertainment industry is a multi-billion dollar enterprise, creating jobs for thousands of young creative minds. Being the entertainment capital of the country, developing the sector not only holds a brighter prospect for Lagos, but the country at large.

    To properly achieve this, the government has prepared a tourism master plan that will steer the state’s tourism potential. The document focuses on culture and heritage, film, art and entertainment, business tourism, nature and adventure, medical and wellness and beach and leisure.

    An integral part of the government’s plan to further develop the sector is the Lagos State Creative Industry Initiative (LACI), a partnership between the government and Film Academies like Delyork Creative Academy, Temple Group-Ogidi Studio and Ebony Life Film Academy among others.

    Till date, the partnership has produced over 8000 graduates with the likes of Genoveva Umeh, Moshood Fattah, Desmond Bryce, Obinna James, Promise Egwu, Peter Joshua and Hannah Sampson among others becoming the newest super stars in the sector. After the pandemic, the government supported the sector with a N1 billion naira interest free grant, which was accessed by several film producers.

    The essence is to ensure that the sector remains vibrant and productive. A N200 million interest-free loan was also granted to the first batch of 50 film-maker. The government has also put structures in place to manage and creatively market some iconic tourist sites in the state. This is in addition to the completion of the J.K Randle Centre for Yoruba Culture, Onikan, Lagos as well as the commissioning of the New Glover Memorial Hall, Lagos.

    Lufodo Productions, co-founded by veteran actress, Mrs. Joke Silva-Jacobs, was engaged as the concessionaire to professionally manage the Glover Hall. In order to fully leverage on the potential of the movie industry in the stare, the government, in partnership with Del-York International Group, has performed the ground breaking ceremony of the $100 million dollar Lagos Film City in Ejinrin, Epe.

    The proposed 100-hectare Film City will be a total hub for movie production; it’s not just about studios. It is a testament to the government’s commitment to nurturing the arts and supporting the dreams of aspiring filmmakers, actors, and technicians. It will create numerous job opportunities, stimulate economic growth and attract investments.

    It will be a hub for film production, post-production, visual effects, and all the ancillary services that support the film-making process. It is envisioned to be equipped with state-of-the-art facilities, sound stages, editing suites, production offices, and everything necessary to bring the magic of the silver screen to life. It is designed to be a one-stop-hub for movie production.

    In New York, the movie industry creates 185,000 jobs annually, $18.1B in wages and $81.6B in total economic output. Thus, the Lagos Film City project is part of the all-inclusive firm efforts of the government to further enhance the growth of the industry and boost local economy. Another integral part of the strategies being deployed to develop the sector is the improvement of the night economy. A 24-hour economy is one in which socioeconomic activities do not halt at night.

    The hospitality and entertainment industries, in particular, thrive better in such scenarios. Presently, Lagos boasts of a relatively thriving night economy. In terms of crime management and security, night activities in Lagos have become relatively stable. As part of the government’s resolve to develop the state’s night economy potential, the 2023 ‘Greater Lagos Fiesta’, the annual event to usher in the New Year, took place simultaneously in five different locations across the state for 72 hours, from 29th of December, 2023 to the 1st January, 2024. The event, with an estimated 300,000 participants, positively impacted the state’s economy through massive sales of goods and services to thousands of fun and entertainment lovers.

    One of the major takeaways of the Fiesta was its near perfect security arrangement. Cheerfully, the government is not resting on its oars as the long term plan is to create a vibrant and safer Lagos that offers something for everyone – from a street bar with live music, a mechanic service, fashion businesses, to an all-hours bookshop. In the next ten years, it is expected that the state’s economy will be transformed away from a focus on younger people and entertainment.

    It is hoped that 40 per cent of people taking advantage of the improved 24/7 activities in the state will be aged over 40 and that 40 per cent of operating businesses at this time will be chiefly anchored on formal business concerns.This is why the government is encouraging a larger variety of retailers and attractions to stay open late, to broaden people’s choices of things to do at night. By 2028, the state hopes to double its 24/7 economy turnover and increase employment by 55% through the creation of several new jobs.

    There is, perhaps, no better way to promote tourism than current efforts aimed at improving infrastructure across the state. Infrastructure is quite essential to the growth of tourism as any visible defect in infrastructure will surely dissuade tourists.

    Hence, on-going efforts to change the face of public transportation through the provision of more jetties as well as expansion of access to waterways, construction and rehabilitation of roads and bridges, construction of modern bus terminals among others are principally engendered by the need to build and sustain the needed infrastructure upon which enduring tourism pillars can stand. Lagos is not only the commercial nerve of Africa, it is the birthplace of Nollywood and the location of a majority of the cinemas in Nigeria.

    Therefore, the efforts of the Sanwo-Olu administration in boosting tourism activities in the state is in the right direction. However, in order to entirely optimize the potentials of the tourism sector, it is crucial to train personnel such as tour guides to enhance their professionalism. In Israel, for instance, tour guides are so efficient, passionate and so enthusiastic that they make tourists feel immensely excited and somehow fulfilled.

    Also, there is a need to produce well researched and competently produced tourists guidebooks, which prospective tourists could find handy when they plan or decide to visit. This could be made available at major international and local airports across the world as well as other channels.

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    Opinion

    FAAN: Improvement of Passenger Facilitation, Security Gave Boost to Tourism

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    FAAN: Improvement of Passenger Facilitation, Security Gave Boost to Tourism

    The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) said that its improvement of airport facilities, passenger facilitation and security has encouraged tourism in Nigeria.

    The agency said that the drastic action taken by the Managing Director, Mrs. Olubunmi Kuku against touting at the airports has brought sanity and orderliness to the satisfaction of travellers.

    Kuku identified some of these achievements when she spoke at the Wings of Change Focus Africa Conference (WOCFA) overseen by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) last week; held in Johannesburg, South Africa.

    A statement signed by the Director, Public Affairs & Consumer Protection, Obiageli Orah, said FAAN has recently taken steps to make Nigeria’s airports safe and accessible by genuine tourists and travellers and has also made efforts to eliminate touting and other forms of criminal conducts around the airports.

    FAAN boss also spoke on the recent creation of a dedicated Department for Cargo Services in the agency, as stakeholders emphasized the need for improvement of trade facilitation, including air cargo facilities and infrastructure, cargo compliance, closer collaboration amongst African countries and Stakeholders as well as Cargo Specialized Training for stakeholders.

    There was emphasis on digitalization of passenger processing and how the embrace of robotics technology by airports in Africa would help to give customers further experience of speed, efficiency and excellence. The use of technology to drive efficiency has been part of FAAN’s priority agenda under the present dispensation.

    Making his input on the first day of the conference, the Minister of Aviation & Aerospace Development, Mr. Festus Keyamo, emphasised the need for removal of visa restrictions to enable free movement of people and goods across the continent, stating that to achieve this, there is need to work with Foreign Affairs Ministers across Africa.

    The Minister equally made a case for adequate funding of air transport in Africa.

    Also speaking at the event, IATA,s Regional Vice President, Africa & Middle East, Kamil Alawadhi called for pursuit of net zero carbon emissions by 2050, which constitutes part of FAAN’s recent programmes.

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    Ekiti is safe for tourists’ traffic-Ojo-Lanre

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    Ekiti is safe for tourists’ traffic-Ojo-Lanre

    Following the Ekiti State renewed effort to attract tourist’s influx to the numerous wonder sites scattered around the state and especially the flag destination, Ikogosi Warm and Cold Springs Resort, the Director-General of Ekiti State Bureau of Tourism Development, Ambassador Wale Ojo-Lanre, has said that the state is safe with the level of security architecture put in by the government.

    Ojo-Lanre disclosed this to tourism writers, on ground to see the new face of Ikogosi Warm and Cold Spring Resort and noted that Ikogosi, which is the new pride of the state, is perfectly safe and welcoming to tourists.

    Clearing the air on anxieties of insecurity in the state, Ojo-Lanre said the recounted bouts happened on the suburbs of Ekiti, maintaining that the tourism zones like Ikogosi community and its environ are safe.

    He said there were cautious efforts by the state government to secure tourists. “I don’t want to expose our security strategy, but I can tell you that we are the only state that has a homeland security as a parastatal under my agency. We know what is going on. When the road is not safe, tourism is in danger,” he stated.

    Meanwhile the Ekiti State government is fine-tuning plans to develop a tourism master plan, a working blueprint to practically explore and develop products and services to create and drive the economy of the state.

    Ojo-Lanre explained that for any serious state to enhance its tourism potentialities to the expected capacity, it must first develop a tourism master plan.

    “A tourism development master plan is a necessity for any state that wants to develop and the state governor, Biodun Abayomi Oyebanji, emphasised that the first thing we have to do is to develop a tourism master plan for Ekiti and we started.

    “We have started drafting our tourism policy and we have identified the consultants to work on our tourism master plan. It would be delivered between August and October this year,” Ojo-Lanre added.

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    Eliminate insurgents at Kainji Park

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    Eliminate insurgents at Kainji Park

    KAINJI National Park, an expansive natural reserve in Niger State covering an area of about 5,341 square kilometres, and known for its biodiversity and rich cultural heritage, has unfortunately garnered attention for a much more sinister reason. A recent report revealed that the park has become a haven for terrorists. This alarming development calls for urgent and decisive action to reclaim the park and ensure the safety of the wildlife and the surrounding communities.

    The Clingendael Institute, a Dutch think-tank, in a new report, said there is ample evidence Islamic terrorists from the Sahel have crossed into Nigeria through the Benin Republic border. The jihadis believed to be of the ISWAP sect, were said to have settled in Kebbi State and the KNP, turning the facility into their base.

    In reaction, the Director, Defence Media Operations, Edward Buba said the military was conducting operations in terrorist enclaves in the North-Central, which includes the KNP. A targeted military assault to root out the terrorists should not be delayed.

    The presence of terrorists in Kainji is a stark reminder of the broader security challenges that Nigeria faces. These groups exploit the remote and dense forest areas as strategic hideouts, using the park as a base for planning and executing attacks.

    The insurgents are engaged in poaching, logging, and mining, weakening the park’s protection, and further endangering the flora and fauna. The local communities have deserted their homes for IDP camps while several kidnapped persons are being held captive by the criminals.

    The park, part of Nigeria’s first and largest protected area, is home to wildlife, including elephants, lions, and numerous bird species. The park encompasses Kainji Lake, a critical resource. The terrorists’ invasion poses significant national security implications for Nigeria.

    Kainji Dam, which plays a crucial role in Nigeria’s hydroelectric power generation and irrigation systems, is located near the KNP. The dam’s presence within the park means that any security threats to the park, such as terrorist occupation, directly impact the safety and functionality of this critical infrastructure.

    Any attack on the dam or other facilities could disrupt electricity generation, affecting millions of Nigerians and causing significant economic and social upheaval.

    The seizure of the park by the insurgents has severe humanitarian implications. Local communities, who depend on the park for their livelihoods through fishing, farming, and tourism, live in fear. The terrorists’ activities disrupt economic activities, displace families, and create an environment of instability.

    Nigeria has suffered huge losses to Boko Haram and ISWAP rebels since 2009 when the militants started fighting the state. Human losses and displacements, especially in the North-East epicentre, are horrendous.

    To reclaim the park from the insurgents, an immediate and well-coordinated military action is essential. This intervention should be precise to avoid collateral damage to the park’s ecosystem and local communities. Empowering local security forces with training and resources can help maintain security once the initial military operations are completed. Establishing a permanent security presence in and around the park will prevent the terrorists from reoccupying it.

    Leveraging international support and expertise in counterterrorism and conservation can enhance Nigeria’s efforts. Partnerships with global conservation organisations can also help restore and protect the park’s biodiversity post-conflict. Implementing advanced monitoring and surveillance technologies, such as drones and satellite imagery, can provide real-time information on illegal activities and movement within the park, enabling quicker and more effective responses.

    Restoring the park to its rightful status as a sanctuary for wildlife and a resource for sustainable development is not only a national imperative but a global one. The world is watching, and President Bola Tinubu must rise to this challenge, demonstrating resilience and determination in adversity.

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