[By VICTOR NZE]
Lagos Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mrs Uzamat Akinbile-Yussuf, disclosed, Thursday, that the state has opted to hold a hybrid intense brainstorming and very incisive session as format for celebrating this year’s World Tourism Day (WTD 2020).
This is just as the commissioner also disclosed that the newly-reviewed tourism masterplan of the state as submitted by the Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN), Lagos Chapter, will not be sent to the House of Assembly for deliberations.
According to Akinbile-Yussuf, industry stakeholders who will be participating in the World Tourism Day event will join the celebration through the Zoom virtual platform, Facebook Livestream on Lagos State Government from the five administrative divisions of state, namely; Epe, Badagry, Ikorodu and Eko (Lagos) while a smaller number will attend along some high profile guests at the physical event taking place in the Ikeja division.
The commissioner said this, Thursday, during a press conference at the Lagos Theatre, Oregun, Ikeja, organized to announce preparations lined up for the forthcoming World Tourism Day (WTD) celebrations , Sunday, September 27.
The press briefing also served as platform for the commissioner to showcase activities of her ministry in the last one year.
Akinbile-Yusuf who explained that the option of a virtual celebration was necessitated by the Coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic which she added has now compelled the state to look inward by exploring, further that the option has now positioned Lagos as pioneer in the hybrid world of Meetings, Incentives, Conference and Events (MICE) tourism in the country.
“The theme for this year’s WTD “Tourism and Rural Development” is timely and quite apt considering the need to look inward and develop tourism attractions in rural areas as a strategy to make our domestic tourism more vibrant.
“By this Sunday, starting from 12noon, the Ministry will hold a hybrid intense brainstorming and very incisive session as a way of celebrating WTD 2020. Tourism stakeholders who will be participating in the event will join the celebration through Zoom platform, Facebook Livestream on Lagos State Government and from four divisions of State, while a smaller number will join some high profile guests at the physical event taking place in Ikeja.
“The Panel of Discussants will include some of the past Permanent Secretaries and Commissioners of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, as well as a Goodwill message from His Royal Majesty, the Oniru of Iruland, Oba Omobolahan Lawal Abisogun II.
“We hope that the event would further enhance our road map for the Ministry to going forward in discovering more tourism sites for development, hence the reason we are involving tourism stakeholders across the five divisions of the state to participate in the event.
“This year’s celebration, for obvious reasons, is very unique and at the same time peculiar in the history of the entire world coming at a time when tourism activities are suffering a serious setback due to the inactivity in the sector occasioned by Covid-19 pandemic,” the commissioner said.
On the achievements recorded by her ministry in the last one year, the commissioner described them as ‘appreciable’ in view of the Covid-19 situation and also going by the charge given by the state governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu to members of his cabinet that the ‘pandemic will not be a reason for non-performance or an hindrance for the delivery of his Greater Lagos mandate premised on the THEMES Agenda.’
“It is instructive to note at this gathering that the Ministry in spite of the prevailing covid-19 pandemic had made some appreciable progress since the beginning of the year in realizing the vision of the Governor for Entertainment and Tourism.
“The Ministry is working hard to transform Lagos State into a tourism and entertainment hub in Africa by exploring, promoting the potentials that abound in the State, as well as supporting the thriving entertainment and arts industry as a viable platform to attract visitors and also create jobs in the State.
“The Ministry has been able to engage various stakeholders in the Tourism and Entertainment sector to develop and promote local tourism. As part of the cordial relationship we have established with Federation of Tourism Association of Nigeria (FTAN), the leadership of the Association collaborated with the Ministry to review Lagos Tourism Master plan that will guide tourism related activities for the next ten years in the State.
“The Ministry has also started the production of a documentary that will dwell on inventing new destinations to be sold such as Film Village, Musical Concert Arena, Medical Wellness and relevant forms of PPP arrangements to be deployed by the Ministry in order to transform Lagos State into a tourism and entertainment hub in Africa by exploring, promoting the potentials that abound in the State
The Ministry will be launching its website before the end of the 4th Quarter, this year.
“The Ministry is developing a Lagos video that will tell the story of Lagos in terms of creativity, artifacts/Artworks, hospitality, Fashion, food, culture, entertainment, festivals/carnivals, heritage and collaboration is on with relevant Agencies and Private sectors to display the Video on all social medias, Local & International flights, Hotels, Electronic Billboards across the State, Television Stations, among others,” she said.
On measures taken to intervene in the operations of stakeholders during the pandemic, the commissioner ministry had evolved ‘creative ways’ of keeping the industry alive.
“Let me start by saying that the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture has since the outbreak of Coronavirus pandemic in the State designed creative ways of keeping the tourism and entertainment sector moderately alive amidst strict observance of covid-19 protocols.
“Apart from issuing guidelines for all the practitioners in the industry to follow in line with pronouncements and directives of the State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the Ministry used the period of the lockdown especially to virtually engaged all stakeholders in the tourism and entertainment
industry, the outcome of these series of meetings have been very helpful for the Ministry in coming up with the steps we have been taking so far.
“Just recently too, the State Government announced the commitment of N1 billion as seed capital for investment in Tourism, Arts and Culture for practitioners in the industry to drive the growth of practitioners in the State.
“As I speak, the Ministry in collaboration with the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF), has commenced the process of verifying applicants and beneficiaries of the fund. Apart from this, the Mr. Governor has equally approved 50% reduction on Licencing fees for Hospitality businesses as incentives for the practitioners in the industry to aid recovery process from the inactivity in the sector since the outbreak of the deadly virus earlier in the year.
“The Ministry also took a step further to strengthen its relationship with the National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB). Just yesterday, a Committee set up to review the existing Memorandum of Understanding between NFVCB and the Lagos State Film and Video Censors Board, LSFVCB was inaugurated.
“This to us in Lagos State heralds a new beginning towards having disagreement in the area of fixing fees for practitioners and in addressing the bottlenecks inhibiting the growth of our practitioners. The State Government is also in the process of establishing Tourism Development Trust Fund to provide succor to practitioners in the industry intime of need, this is one of the area that the pandemic had assisted in bringing to fore the more.
“The State is already one of the top five in Africa when it comes to tourism, but our plans is to occupy the first position in Africa in the area of Tourism activities and this, I strongly believe, is achievable.
“The Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture will open conversation with the Ministry of Waterfront Infrastructure Development and other relevant MDAs of the government to explore profitable partnership in this area that would ultimately lead to a more vibrant tourism and entertainment sector specifically leveraging on our waterways potential.
“Let me add that the Ministry has two major ongoing projects that are at different levels of completion. The projects are J.K Randle Centre for Yoruba Culture and History and Glover Memorial Hall,” Akinbile-Yussuf concluded.
Earlier, Mr Ikechi Uko, Technical Assistant for Lagos state on World Tourism Day celebration said that the programme will be an hybrid one which would set good standard for other events in the state.
Uko noted that current technological gadgets would be employed to ensure full participation of all Lagos residents.
He also congratulated Gov. Sanwo-Olu haven successfully flattened COVID-19 curve in the state.
Fielding questions by reporters, the commissioner cleared the air on the recently reviewed Lagos Tourism Masterplan, disclosing that the document will not need to go through the House of Assembly for approval.
According to the commissioner, ‘we at the ministry will only need to make some inputs before forwarding same document to the office of His Excellency, the governor for approval and the next step will be the full implementation of the contents of the masterplan.’
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