Can Babajide Sanwo-Olu restore the glory of Lagos as a tourist destination?
The economy of Mauritius has tourism as one of its pillars next to manufacturing and agriculture.
The economy of Mauritius has tourism as one of its pillars next to manufacturing and agriculture. With the number of tourists steadily growing, the tourism industry has provided jobs all year round while contributing immensely to the GDP. The government of Mauritius has also leveraged on the success of their tourism industry to develop new markets, penetrate new countries while encouraging FDI to boost their economy.
Again is the Seychelles example where employment, foreign earnings construction, banking, and commerce are all centred around tourism-related activities. Tourism also employs about 30% of the labour force and provides more than 70% of hard currency earnings and is still on the increase. My several visits to Dubai has left me in awe of the masterminds that were able to transform a desert city into one of prominence on the global tourism map. How much more the city of Lagos?
Though the odds aren’t in our favour – Nigeria ranking as the world's poverty capital- and our huge population, I believe that Lagos due to its historical significance to the black race holds a place of emotional and psychological appeal to tourists. Also are the sites and sound of the city and its budding I.T industry with which Lagos can become a world acclaimed tourist destination.
As we’re about to hit the polls again to determine the future of our Lagos for the next 4 years, I’m keen to see what the plans for Tourism are. Given that he has been in both Government and private sector positions and knows how the system works, I have taken an interest in the APC candidate, Babajide Olushola Sanwo-Olu to see what sets him apart from other contestants vying for the governorship seat, especially in the area of tourism and entertainment for Lagos State.
Babajide Sanwo-Olu has a track record of performance in the public sector and has participated in major economic projects including the privatization and commercialization of several Federal Government-owned companies and parastatals. He also spear-headed the preparation and publication of the Lagos State Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (LASEEDS). He is reckoned with as a natural leader with strong people skills and is well versed in the principles of inclusion and equal representation in the interest of all. He has also played an active role in the emerging success that Lagos is having worked actively in the public sector.
Babajide Sanwo-Olu has held positions in Lagos state as the acting honourable commissioner for Economic Planning and Budgets, commissioner for commerce & industry, Honourable Commissioner for Establishment, Training and Pensions, Pioneer and Board Member, Lagos state security Trust fund and MD of the Lagos state Property Development Corporation. In the private sector, Babajide Sanwo-Olu has held Senior Management roles at Lead Merchant Bank, United Bank for Africa and First Atlantic Bank (now FCMB) and has entrepreneurial experience in the real estate, power and aviation sectors of the economy.
As part of his vision for tourism in Lagos state, Babajide Olushola Sanwo-Olu’s manifesto includes to make Lagos the foremost entertainment and tourist destination in Africa by collaborating with stakeholders to build a fully equipped and functional film city which will berth a training academy as well as boost the entertainment value of the state. Also Babajide Sanwo-Olu will build partnerships with local and international experts and institutions to establish world-class training institutions targeted at upskilling the creative industry in the state.
This is an innovative move as film tourism is fast taking centre-place in the business of tourism. Film tourism which connects tourist interest to sites made famous by films has emerged as a global trend over the past decade. For example, The Lord of the Rings trilogy contributed to a 40% rise in the number of visitors to New Zealand, so using film and entertainment to further tourism potentials of Lagos state is a forward thinking one. We could use historic sites as scenes in home produced movies thereby advertising Lagos to the world.
Babajide Sanwo-Olu also has a mandate to upgrade the curriculum at the Lagos State University to meet with the 21st century workplace demands especially as it concerns film production and other creative enterprises. Also, in his bid to make Lagos a tourist destination to be reckoned with, Babajide Sanwo-Olu aims to restore all historic sites in Lagos at the rate of 20 cultural sites yearly as well as upgrade the cultural festivals celebrated in Lagos to international standard. These festivals such as the Eyo festival and Boat Regatta will be publicized on a tourist-focused calendar and disseminated as a guide for tourists events. There will also be the inclusion of grass root sports to boost the communal spirit of Lagos while discovering budding talent to promote at international levels.
This move to use entertainment and sports to grow tourism is also a much welcomed one. Just like with the Cape Town international Jazz festival in South Africa which is the 4th largest jazz festival in the world and attracts many tourists on a yearly basis, it gives a boost to the host economy and allows for discovery of new talent. Also the mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania which is popular with mountain hikers and also Zanzibar known for its swimming and snorkelling have used sports as a basis to realize their tourism potential.
In my opinion, Babajide Olushola Sanwo-Olu’s pedigree as a result oriented leader has positioned him well above other gubernatorial aspirants in Lagos state.
In conclusion, since the world has its eyes on the emerging market that is Africa and with Lagos being her largest growing city, shouldn’t Lagosians create an enabling environment for tourism to thrive? I believe we should if it is our collective desire to situate Lagos in its place of prominence on the tourism map in Africa and indeed the world.
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