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Thursday, September 15, 2016

Hard Knocks, Massive Blows For Steve Ayorinde, Information Ministry Over Attempts To Dabble Into Tourism With ‘’Love Lagos’’ At Popular London Carnival

Recently, I was alarmed by reports from Lagos State Ministry of Information that it was headed to Notting Hill (London) carnival to showcase love Lagos weekend.
This was done at a “Nigerian corner, now transformed into “a Lagos corner” and you may wonder why not Love Lagos Weekend in a Nigerian Corner? Tourism promotion and marketing is certainly not “information” driven mechanism but a deliberate commercial (marketing) communication process not left to confusion and pedestrian interpretation.

My worry for Lagos tourism promotion and marketing began not just with the Notting Hill outing but also with the “innocent” visit of Ben TV promoter Dr. Alistair Soyode to the state Ministry of Information and excluding the tourism administrators in the attempt by Ben Tv United Kingdom to help project the wave making and tourism revival agenda of Governor Ambode of Lagos in London.

Before Ambode came on board, Lagos has only thrived on lip service slogan as “Eko for show”, a trade mark trajectory that belittles and mocks its huge hold as a centre of aquatic, trade and cultural goldmine in Nigeria nay Africa. Except for the military administrations of Raji Razaki and Olagunsoye Oyinlola, no government, not even that Babatunde Fashola could change the fortune of Lagos tourism until Ambode happened on the scene.

And between December 2015 and now, Ambode despite the huge infrastructure drive and pressures of development had kept faith with his electoral promise to transform Lagos through sports, entertainment and tourism. From Lagos fiesta, One Lagos and love Lagos tourism projects, every observer of the changing tourism skyline of Lagos, would agree that the governor and his tourism advisers have developed templates and road maps that would revive and restore the lost tourism glory of Lagos State.

However, too much “interference” or help hands without the needed understanding of the tourism road maps content(s) and objectives(s) could derail Ambode’s tourism vision. This formed my fear when the Ministry of Information “fronted” love Lagos weekend without visible “support” and coordination from its counter-part in the Ministry of Tourism.

Tourism marketing and promotion is a professional call and usually deliberately driven. The mistake in this part of Africa, Nigeria in particular is that we find it difficult to understand the dynamisms associated with marketing tourism products and consequently end up losing the end of the rope. As far as this reporter is concerned, Mr. Steve Ayorinde and his Information Ministry have no business in either marketing or projecting (promotion) Lagos tourism products.

Tourism products are usually interpreted to sell its end objectives through strategic offerings that cut across marketing platforms to sustain the product, with objective(s) and content(s) in view. It is not a one chance affair or abracadabra but a deliberate science on human needs and urge (not fancy) to recreate. It does swim on heavy frontiers of statistics that cuts across hospitality offerings and infrastructure, security, revenue lines, tax and sustainable windows of job openings and support to the environment.

Therefore Lagos fiesta, One Lagos and love Lagos as face of the Ambode tourism drive including sports which is yet to gain ground, should have a situation room rightly domiciled in the Ministry of Tourism and Culture  where its content and objective can be easily monitored, mentored and deliberately promoted to all identified end markets and consumers. Sincerely and instructively, Ayorinde and his Ministry of Information should not for whatever reason be the Chief driver of Lagos tourism products.

Two weeks ago, South Africa Tourism was in Nigeria. Its state information machinery was never part of its huge successful marketing drive across Nigerian cities of Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt. The South Africans did their research and based on its findings, strategically and deliberately partnered with Nigerian Tour Operators, Travel Agents and the Travel and Tourism Press to drive their “visit South Africa tourism” message to Nigerian consumers.

Other examples abound elsewhere and therefore Lagos State governor should now arrest the drift and break down in the promotion and marketing of Lagos tourism products before it gets out of hand. Lagos Ministry of Information should therefore revert to its core mandate and leave Lagos tourism promotion to those saddled with its responsibility.

Again, I submit that Folarin Coker is capable and has the experience to drive the Ambode tourism expectations and dreams. He is cool and calculating, passionate, a bridge builder and humble enough to learn and improve on Lagos tourism stake. There is no doubt that tourism cuts across all human development platforms, so it would not be out of place if Ayorinde’s Ministry of Information would creatively offer to help Coker’s tourism mandate through “Talk show/conversation windows” on Lagos State Television and Radio stations with documentaries and live telecasts of Lagos tourism issues. It would not be out of place to have an hour tourism talk show on prime time the on Lagos TV and radio station, showcasing where to dine, wine, dance and sleep in Lagos. This opening can create revenue lines for Lagos TV/radio station.

Honestly, it is too early in day to confound and confuse the overall marketing future of Lagos tourism under governor Ambode and one would advise that his Excellency should immediately nip the confusion in the bud before we go back again to “Eko for show” of yester-years.

The tourism world is watching Lagos, particularly our brothers in Africa- Ghana, Gambia, Senegal, Kenya and South Africa. In fact, I look forward to the day One Lagos fiesta will blast through African cities to bring their citizens to visit Lagos. It can be done but Lagos must be firm in its marketing strategy which must not be left to chance effort or inter ministerial power show.


The premier global tourism and travel market, the World Travel Market (WTM) is up in preparation in November and Lagos tourism must be there. Honestly, this the ideal and progressive tourism marketing turf for Governor Ambode and Folarin Coker to master and connect the tourism world looking for a virgin place like Lagos to visit and invest.

However, I must warn that WTM is not a place for pedestrian and simplistic marketing and promotion disposition but a serious market for serious tourism products and destination. So, Lagos must be prepared now but must first of all, get registered either under a private or state pavilions even though what is general accepted is state (Nation) pavilions. But since NTDC is dead and do not have the spine to promote Nigeria, Ambode may well stand in for Nigeria and reap all the gains and benefits.

How then can Lagos jam WTM and have a message? First, Folarin must get select tourism practitioners and dawn stream players to come under the Lagos pavilion. He can invite but not limited to hospitality outfits, Travel agents /tour operators, tourist boat operators, local bukas with future of expansion to the outside world (gastronomic ambassadors), ground transport operators, private universities (Educ tourism), local airlines, Event outfit owners, churches (religious tourism) and travel media.

The list should also include Lagos Cultural Troupe (a select number with drums) to vibe up the Lagos stand through the event. Nigeria tourism under Otunba Segun Runsewe used the Cultural Troupe to drum South Africa “out” of WTM which other African nations later introduced as part of their appearance. Eyo masquerade can be on showcase if the Oba of Lagos approves. Also an opening and closing showcase of the best food tray from Lagos should be served to visitors to Lagos stand.

The Construction of Lagos Pavilion should not be left to chances, Lagos State Ministry of Tourism must seek the services of best creative pavilion designers and builders to place Lagos at the vintage position and talking about vintage position, Lagos must get to WTM organisers and buy off the vintage location at the Africa stand or where it wishes to place its pavilion.

That pavilion must be decorated with giant posters and (LED) digital driven screens showcasing the Lagos liveability infrastructures such as the Badagry Blue rail lines, third/fourth mainland bridges, market scenes the Apogbon, Ereko and Idumota, the Lekki Free Trade Zone, Dangote refinery, Folawiyo oil blocks in Badagry, Oshodi Transport Inter Exchange should embellish the Lagos stand.

For a merrier outing and which depends on funding, Folarin’s Ministry can invite but must coordinate the appearances of agencies with tourism content such as Lamata powered transport outfits on BRT, Lagos ferry (if any), water front and waterways,  LASMA, Lagos global and all trade related organisations that can benefits from the rich marketing profile of WTM. I pray governor Ambode approves and gives Lagos tourism needed WTM exposure even if it is an experimental and research driven outing. WTM is bigger and better than Notting Hill carnival and Toronto film festival and I stand to be corrected any day.

Frank Meke @ thecable

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