Lagos State prides itself on being futuristic and ambitious in transforming the state into a 21st century economy based on rapidly developing infrastructure and providing economic opportunities to teeming residents.
However, for the state to continue to function and move forward, conscious futuristic plans must be put in place for its continued economic development in its areas of comparative advantage. One of these areas is tourism.
It is with this in mind that Babajide Samwo-Olu led the Lagos State government through his THEMES program (acronyms for traffic and transport management, health and environment, education and technology, making Lagos a 21ST economy, entertainment and tourism, and governance and security). has developed a tourism master plan to synchronize and manage tourism developments.
The Tourism Master Plan is new to Nigeria, mainly because the Federal Government has yet to implement the National Master Plan which was launched in 2005 in collaboration with the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). Then the federal government, led by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, made tourism one of the six priority areas to help the country emerge from the monoeconomy. The national tourism master, the government said, was required to build capacity and develop the tourism sector. The proposed National Tourism Master Plan was launched on February 7, 2005, and 16 years later has still not seen the light of day, despite the collaboration and contribution of UNWTO and UNDP. This prompted many in the tourism industry to congratulate the Lagos State government on this achievement.
For Lagos’ tourism master plan, according to a source who worked on the project, the state spent a minimum of 386 million naira to carry out the master plan.
The master plan is divided into six areas of growth called pillars. They are: well-being and heritage; cinema, art and entertainment; beach and recreation; nature and adventure; business and MICE; and medical tourism.
The State aims to achieve the following objectives by 2038: to increase tourism receipts to 5.1 billion US dollars; increase the number of tourism jobs to 1.1 m; increase overnight spending by visitors; increase the quality of industry services; and improve transport and connectivity.
The master plan is also divided into short and long term projections. The state intends, in the short term, to have tourism receipts of 2.7 billion dollars with an annual growth rate of 4.5%. It expects to receive 4.3 million visitors by 2023. The medium and long-term contribution of tourism to the state’s economy is 6.1 and 7.2 percent, respectively, hoping to attract around 13.8 million. visitors by 2038.
Speaking on the plan, editor of ATQ news and organizer of the Akwaaba travel fair in West Africa, Ambassador Ikechi Ukoh spoke about his and also Nigeria’s national tourism master plan which has not still seen the light of day: “The Nigerian tourism master plan, to my own understanding, was flawed from the start and I reported it to the team that put it together. And when we went to Aso Rock (Presidential Villa ) for a presentation to President Obasanjo, I also pointed out that it was built on a bad premise. You cannot build your tourism on the basis of foreign tourists from Europe when we have other problems than you are not likely to solve in 10 years. I said it was not going to work. They said no it was a national plan and everyone was going to work on it. Now after presenting the plan director, you dismantled the Presidential Council of Tourism (PCT), which was one of the platforms you could have used to coordinate implementation at the national level. So, I knew that the national master plan was never going to take off and I won’t say that I was surprised that it did not take off.
“Lagos State is a country on its own with over 20 million people, with an international airport, a seaport and with all the sophistication you have in place. There is no reason why one of Africa’s largest city-states shouldn’t thrive in tourism and become one of the top destinations. It is a great idea that Lagos is making a plan to actualize its vision of tourism, and to me that is commendable.
“Do I also agree with each of their milestones, personally, no. on some points I disagree but I think the vision is correct, the idea of having a plan for tourism in Lagos, I agree 100 percent.
“If you ask me personally, I argued with the people who worked on the master plan and said their goals were low. You have an international, one of the top five in Africa. You have a seaport that could become a cruise port. You have a larger international population than Dubai. Over the next 20 years, Lagos, in my opinion, is expected to be in the top 10 most visited cities in the world. For me, this is where I think Lagos should play.
“But I accept that people work with realistic figures of what is happening now. If that was me, I think we can do a lot better, and it’s not too hard to achieve.
Ikechi advised other states on tourism development: “Lagos should be commended. I think it started in 2018 under Steve Ayorinde. It has been reviewed by some industry experts and produced the final document from which they will now extract an implementation plan. This set the example of why we should have forward thinking people as leaders. “
On the goals that the state has set itself to achieve by 2038, Ikechi thinks it was achievable: “I think they are achievable. Lagos is already doing well in some of these areas. If you are talking about entertainment, I don’t think there is any in Africa that can become the entertainment capital of Africa. Now we need to strengthen some of these things, articulate them and organize them better. For business and a bit of MICE, I think this is an area where we can grow and dominate, but understanding and organizing to achieve these goals now needs to be done.
The President of the Institute of Tourism Practitioners of Nigeria (ITPN) and Project Coordinator of the Annual International Tourism and Transport Summit (ITTS), Chief Abiodun Odusanwo also spoke about the New State Tourism Master Plan of Lagos: “It provides a platform on which Activities can now be planned by both those in the tourism industry and those who are not, you know that tourism affects many facets of our lives daily. Together with the tourism master plan, it now provides a basis on which budget activities can now be planned. It allows a more or less uniformity of the modalities of activities of many actors of the State and even outside the country.
Now, what it also does is that with the tourism master plan, associations can start mapping their corresponding activities emanating from the tourism master plan. What the plan just did is give an indication of what could or should be done to achieve a particular result. The master plan would now allow actors to start linking their strategic activities to the master plan. It allows for greater coordination of activities across the state. For example, someone in the transportation industry will now say this is the master plan, how will that affect the mining sector of the economy? It gives strategic options at the state level to follow. I’m glad the state’s tourism master plan has finally been unveiled. I think we should also look at the case of the Nigerian tourism master plan. Since its introduction many years ago, it has not been implemented. So with the pioneer state of Lagos, what now means is that more states in the country will now use it as a stimulus to develop their own tourism master plan. So this is a good development, it will also allow other sectors of the economy to start now to see how they can develop a master plan for their sector.
Regarding the failure of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture to give birth to the Nigerian Tourism Master Plan, Odusanwo said the draft National Tourism Master Plan has become obsolete: “It’s a shame that a lot of effort and time have been spent to arrive at Nigerian tourism. master plan. I am afraid it is sooner or later for the implementation of the National Tourism Master Plan, as the way things were many years ago when the Master Plan was written is different now. So really, the tourism master plan is outdated. He divided Nigeria into groups and identified a few key areas of interest. It’s very unfortunate, when some of them might be relevant; a large number of them are outdated in terms of technological progress and social indices of the country. It is therefore regrettable that the national tourism master plan has not been implemented. I’m afraid that may no longer be the case, as most of the factors captured there are no longer tenable. “
Other industry professionals believe that the Lagos State government’s tourism program is on track and have called on the federal government to reconsider the issue of the master plan for tourism development in the country.