The former Director General of Nigerian Tourism Development Cooperation (NTDC), Mr Olusegun Runsewe, has thrown his weight behind the plans of Lagos State governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode to transform the presidential lodge in Lagos to a tourist hub.
He also praised President Muhammadu Buhari for his large heart in approving the Presidential lodge to Lagos State.
He however suggested that the presidential lodge be converted to heritage and visitors tower which he noted, would stand out the City of Excellence in the global tourism and liveability ranking.
Runsewe speaking to journalists in Lagos on Monday, described the handover of the landmark Presidential lodge by President Buhari to Lagos government as the best news to have ever come to him in the history of tourism development in Nigeria, an initiative he further noted which shows that President Buhari meant well for the development of all the component units of Nigeria.
To critically brand and transform the lodge located on the busy Lagos marina into a global iconic tourism feature, Runsewe whose tenure in Government tourism administration attracted huge local and international commendation pleaded that Governor Ambode should get the best hands and reputable companies to construct a signature world heritage and visitors tower around the vicinity of the lodge with a visibility range to Lekki, Ikeja, Ayobo, Epe, Ikorodu and Badagry.
According to Runsewe, a special light rail must connect the signature heritage and visitors tower to Lagos airport, which in turn could create about 160,00 tourism jobs and turn the marina/onikan axis into an exclusive tourism destination comparable to Dubai, Canada, Trinidad &Tobago and Singapore.
“This is a tourism and culture heritage Mecca in the making and when all the special tourism facilities and luxury appointments are added to it such as Cable car, Car park, Shopping mall, Children play ground, food courts, electronic photo shops & entertainment windows, tourism jobs will not only be provided but Lagos state would truly become Africa’s tourism hub with added greater and verifiable livability value chain to a world looking for a place to rest and do business” He said.
Runsewe who last week got a thumb up from former President Olusegun Obansanjo for a job well done while at NTDC, recalled his efforts in 2010 when he organized and took all the 36 states tourism and culture commissioners in Nigeria to South Africa to educate and expose them to how best to market heritage resources and its job creation value chain, informed that Governor Ambode with the Presidential lodge in his hands, is now within the threshold of making Lagos nay Nigeria the preferred tourism destination in Africa.
“I am excited about this news and commend President Buhari for the gesture. I want to believe that if Govenor Ambode would stick to his plans for tourism in Lagos and from what he has already done, that lodge with a signature heritage and visitors tower easily and strategically connected to major transport entry and departure points in Lagos, would turn Lagos into an instant tourism jobs and revenue making machine” Runsewe predicted.