By Eric Elezuo Photos: Adekoya Adegbite
The Convention Centre of Eko Hotel and Suites Monday was a beehive of activities as tourism and entertainment practitioners as well investors gathered to brainstorm on elevating the tourism industry as the Lagos State Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Lagos State hosted the first ever Lagos Tourism Summit tagged “Destination Lagos: Towards a Sustainable Tourism-Driven Economy”.
The event which kicked off at the10am advertised time had in attendance Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, the Minister of Information, Arts and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the former President of Ghana, H.E. John Dramani Mahama among a great many other dignitaries.
With celebrity comperes in the persons of singer, songwriter and performer, Darey Art Alade and TV/radio personality, Sola Kosoko steering the ceremony; guests were treated to enduring topics tailored towards generating a master plan to make Lagos the tourism hub of West Africa.
Kicking off the show was the creative rendition of the two verses of the Nigerian National Anthem with a talking drum and followed by a superlative cultural performance by a group of children led by Anjola and Sophie, and supported by Darey Art Alade himself.
The host of the event, the Honourable Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mr. Steve Ayorinde, took centre stage afterwards for his welcome address, and intimated the gathering that time has come for the state to maximize its unlimited tourism potentials.
His speech was followed in quick succession by the Chief Host, His Excellency, the Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode’s speech where he noted that Lagos has been in the forefront of propagating the culture of the black race.
He said. “The Lagos Tourism master plan, which is the ultimate end product of this summit, is premised on the context of this analogy. As a government, we are conscious of the fact that infrastructure, security, stability and partnership with all stakeholders are fundamental ingredients for tourism development.”
As the keynote speaker at the event, the former President of Ghana, Mr. John Dramani Mahama, itemized development plans to put in place in order to achieve the ambitious tourism dreams of Governor Ambode.
He cited developed quality medical services, enhanced transportation services; high speed mobile data services and guaranteed security of any visitor coming into Lagos as the major conditions for Lagos to shine above the rest as a hub for tourists.
Alhaji Lai Mohammed, The Minister of Information, Arts and Culture was on hand to echo the views of the previous speakers, beginning with a short documentary that highlighted the sights and sounds of Nigeria, he then revealed that the Federal Government will back Lagos in its quests to develop tourism which will ultimately boost the economy.
Thereafter, panel after panel, notable and privileged professionals and stakeholders in the tourism industry took the platform to dissect the needs of a tourism destination capital like Lagos.
Previewing the first of the four panels was Prof. Ibukunoluwa Ayodele of the Faculty of Agriculture, University of Ibadan. He spoke extensively with copious verifications on “Destination Lagos: Towards a Sustainable Tourism-Driven Economy”.
The members of the panel, which was moderated by the Managing Partner, Abiola Alabi Media, Mrs. Abiola Alabi, included Prince Yemisi Shyllon, Mr. Desmond Majekodunmi, Mr. Koye Edu, Mrs. Omotayo Omotoso and Mr. Phillip Hughes.
The Founder and CEO, Centre for Values in Leadership, Prof. Pat Utomi, previewed the second panel, and harped on the theme, “The Paths and Possibilities for Lagos State”. This panel, moderated by Founder and CEO, Best Games Ltd, Mrs. Opunimi Akinkugbe, had the Managing Director of Access, Mr. Herbert Wigwe, who was ably represented by the bank’s Head of ICT; MD, Bank of Industry, Mr. Kayode Pitan; Programme Associate of Ford Foundation, Ms. Padma Ugbabe; Director, Arts, West Africa for British Council, Ms. Ojoma Ochai and Mr. John Uwajumogu from Ernst and Young.
The third panel which was moderated by Nneka Isaac-Moses of Goge Africa discussed a paper by Mr. James Mcgregor itled Exploring the Lagos Tourism Ecosystem for Economic and Social Benefits. Members of the panels were Hon. Desmond Elliot, Otunba Wanle Akinboboye, Mrs. Tannaz Bahnam and Mrs. Elaine Okeke-Martin.
The final panel discussed Ambassador Ikechi Uko’s paper tagged “MICE, Creative Content as Tourism Panacea, with Lola Shoneyin as Moderator, panelists were Mo Abudu, Mr. Paul Onwuanibe, Mrs Lanre Da-Silva Ajayi, Mrs. Folorunsho Folarin-Coker and Mr. Sam Onyemelukwe.
The Special Adviser to Governor Ambode on Arts and Culture, Mrs. Aramide Giwanson, gave the vote of thanks, appreciating all for coming and presenting a great opportunity to exchange productive tourism development ideas.
Guests were treated to sumptuous reception in between the panel-discussions.
Other important dignitaries that attended the event were Erelu of Lagos, Princess Abiola Dosunmu, Ambassador Musiliu Obanikoro, Chairman, Ovation Media Group, Bashorun Dele Momodu, former Lagos SSG, Princess Adenrele Adeniran-Ogunsanya, LIRS Chairman, Ayo Subair, Shina Peller, Mahmood Ali Balogun, Edi Lawani, Theo Lawson, Bisoye Fagade, Adebayo Salami, Fred Amata, Paul Obazele, Jahman Anikulapo, Dayo Adedayo, Abiodun Osinibosi, former Finance Commissioner, Chief Michael Olawale-Cole, Mr. Rasak Balogun, Ambassador to Benin Republic, Oguntuashe Kayode, Oba Aderibigbe Osi, Ernst and Young Regional Manager, Dr. Onike Akande, Mr. Sunday Ajose, Oba Orimakinde and members of the Lagos State Executive Council.