The Lagos State Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture has reiterated the commitment of the present administration to harnessing the rich tourism and cultural heritage of the State for both local and international tourists.

The Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Pharm. (Mrs.) Uzamat Akinbile-Yussuf disclosed this, on Tuesday, during an interactive session to highlight activities of the Ministry such as the commissioning of the Glover Memorial Hall; the unveiling of the tourism master plan, ongoing remodelling of the JK Randle Yoruba Centre and Community Based Tourism (CBT), among others.

Speaking on the State’s tourism master plan, Akinbile-Yussuf disclosed that the policy was developed with the consent of relevant stakeholders in the tourism industry, noting that it was reviewed to reflect the policy thrust and plans of the present administration for the Entertainment and Tourism pillar of the T.H.E.M.E.S Agenda, especially in the COVID-19 era.

She stated that the document will guide the execution and implementation of short, medium and long-term plans in different areas of tourism activities in alignment with the vision to revamp the sector.

On Community Based Tourism (CBT), the Commissioner noted that the idea behind CBT was to enable the exploration, access and development of tourism potentials such as Unique Cultural Practices, Tradition and Heritage within the Local Community.

Akinbile-Yussuf said: “The pilot scheme of community-based tourism has already kicked off in six local governments across all the five divisions of the State. The essence is to sensitise the local communities of the critical tourism assets and how to harness them as well as the train tour guides and operators”.

The Commissioner pointed out that the training of tour guides is one of the many avenues of job creation for the teeming youth population in the State and disclosed that plans are underway to host one of the biggest arts and craft exhibitions that will expose participants to international markets.

Assuring tourists of security while visiting Lagos, Akinbile-Yussuf said adequate measures have been put in place to ensure the safety of lives and property, just as she sought for partnership with private organisations to host events.

She lamented the disruption to the tourism calendar of the State due to the COVID-19 pandemic, citing the instance of the Greater Lagos Fiesta that was recently suspended due to the warning of an imminent fourth wave of the pandemic. 

“The strategic intent of the State Government in wanting to hold the fiesta was to accelerate the process of reflating the economy of Lagos State by putting money in the hands of our people, through the deluge of commercial activities planned to take place during the fiesta. But the imperatives of protecting the lives of our people clearly override all economic and commercial considerations”, she said.

She, however, counselled event organisers and owners of event centres in the State with plans to host events in December to seek the guidance of the Lagos State Safety Commission, as well as the Ministry of Health, and enforce strict adherence to all COVID-19 safety protocols.