The early morning showers welcomed the delegates of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) to the aquatic city of Lagos on Wednesday June 6, 2018 as part of the activities for the 2018 Commission of Africa (CAF) Meeting in Abuja.
The convoy consisting of retinue of cars, mini buses and a city tour bus with two LASTMA vehicles leading the way were waiting at the frontage of the arrival hall at the Murtala Muhammed Airport Two.
Before long, the delegates landed via a chartered flight, got on the waiting vehicles and proceeded to the Lagos House, Alausa where they were warmly received by Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode.
Governor Ambode told the UNWTO delegates, led by its Secretary General Zurab Pololikashvili, that the ongoing investment in infrastructural facilities across the state by his administration is a well thought out plan to position Lagos as a tourism hub.
“Our administration is not unmindful of the massive economic benefits yet untapped from the tourism sector. We believe that with the kind of population and the market that Lagos has, we must start to create tourism infrastructure to be able to grow the economy, that’s why as you move across Lagos, you would observe that it is technically a construction site; from the airport and as you go on the bridges to the Eko Atlantic City,” he told the gathering.
He added that the ultimate goal is that these infrastructure will drive people to come and spend the weekend in Lagos,“just the way you have decided to spend your Wednesday here in Lagos and the government gets some form of revenue from taxes when people use our hotels. So, there is a cycle of development that tourism tries to drive and that is why we have continuously supported whatever has to do with tourism and let me reiterate also that we would continue to support everything tourism because anything that can integrate and bound the continent together, that’s where we should go because we are the next story.”
On his part, Pololikashvili said Lagos will play a pivotal role in the UNWTO’s quest to promote new tourism destinations across the world.
“We are here to promote new tourism destinations. You can count on us, thanks to you, to promote this fantastic place. Thanks for receiving us and rest assured that Lagos will be one of the most important parts of our strategy branding.”
In his remarks, Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed thanked Governor Ambode for his support towards the hosting of the 61st UNWTO/CAF Meeting in Nigeria, saying that it was largely responsible for the success of the event.
“Without the generous support and cooperation of Lagos State this 61st UNWTO/CAF Meeting would not have been possible. When I ran into difficulties it was my brother that I came to and he bailed me out. I remain eternally grateful to you and Nigeria is very grateful to you because your support has made the Meeting successful,” he said.
He said the visit to Lagos was a major part of the conference and Lagos was chosen because of its foremost place in the country’s tourism architecture, adding that the massive investment in tourism infrastructure by Governor Ambode has gone a long way to show the State’s seriousness to emerge as a leading tourism hub in Nigeria and Africa.
After the meeting with Governor Ambode, the 101 delegates including Ministers of Tourism from eight countries and representatives from 44 countries in Africa visited the Eko Atlantic City on Victoria Island.
The tour of the new city offered the delegates the opportunity to see future tourism offerings from Lagos. Standing on 10 million square metres of land reclaimed from the ocean and protected by an 8.5-kilometre-long sea wall, Eko Atlantic will be the size of Manhattan’s skyscraper district. It will be a self-sufficient and sustainable city with state-of-the-art urban design, its own power generation, clean water, advanced telecommunications, spacious roads, and tree-lined streets.
Eko Atlantic is a marvel of modern engineering and technology, and a testament to the rise of Nigeria on the world stage. The city will feature a range of high end luxury apartments, it also houses many opportunities for more competitively-priced accommodation. The city comes with other facilities like recreational centres such as a 10.2km long waterfront promenade and two marinas, retail shopping, coffee shops and restaurants, healthcare facilities and schools plus a pedestrian lifestyle.
After the tour, the convoy moved to Eko Hotel were the delegates were treated to some tasty Lagos cuisine. The tour came to an end after a visit to the Freedom Park, located at the old Colonial prison on the Lagos Marina.