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Fashola signs law to standardise Tourism, hotel practice in Lagos

By Olasunkanmi Akoni & Monsur  Olowoopejo
Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State on  Monday appended his signature into law, a bill for the regulation  and standardization of the tourism sector including hotel practice  in the state, saying the future holds much more than oil for major  oil producing countries.

As part of its commitment towards enforcing  the law, the state government has placed a fine ranging from N100,  000 to N500, 000 or a two year jail term on any of operator which  found to have violated the just amended Hotel Licensing Law of 2003.

Fashola,  while signing the bill into law at the Conference Room of the Lagos House,  Ikeja added that this explains why such oil producing giants are now investing  their oil proceeds to diversify away from oil and move into other sectors  like Agriculture, knowledge based economy like Information Technology, Green  Energy and Tourism.

He said: “Lagos is one of those states that  have the capacity to really diversify its economy towards the area  of tourism and that are why we have spent so much of tax payers  money trying to provide the environment that would support a growth  of tourism”.

The governor explained that tourism is about  destination, saying if the people cannot get there, there is no  tourism.
Fashola added that this explains the massive  construction of road network such as the Lagos Badagry Expressway,  the Lekki-Epe Concession which are strategic investments to boost  tourism and improve the economic possibilities that lie there. “We  have the same Atlantic Ocean that goes all the way round the West Coast  and as far as Brazil, saying: “If Brazil is making money from the  Atlantic, why are we not doing the same thing. Laws like this also  exist in all those jurisdictions”.

Fashola acknowledged that  the tourism and hospitality sector of the economy is looking up and  getting better by the day, citing the instances of many businesses  that hitherto closed at 7pm but now extending till late in the night.

“More  hotels have opened in Lagos in the last three years and more are still coming.  It is important for us to be able to measure this growth. Legislations such  as this will enable us, apart from reviewing some of the prescriptions here to bring them in conformity with current laws and have a data  where it is possible to enable us know how many new people come into  this economy or how many people it is employing”, the Governor  added.

The governor said in addition to the fact that it  represents a way of self benchmarking, it would also help measure  how many people are being employed in the tourism industry in order  to empower Government to know how much more it has to do. In  his words:

“We complain about unemployment, but we have not really  opened up the economy of this state and to the possibilities. For  example, our greening has employed over 5000 people. We are also  looking at solid waste management waste water treatment and similar  ones that have to be opened up. This is also an economic policy  that can expand the economy”.

Fashola thanked the members  of the State House of Assembly for enacting the useful piece of  legislation.

Earlier, while giving an insight into the bill, the  Special Adviser to the
Governor on Political and Legislative  Matters, Hon AbdulHakeem AbdulLateef  said the law will standardize  the tourism sector as well as regulate hotel practice by amending  the provisions of the hotel licensing law of 2003.

Hon  AbdulHakeem disclosed that immediately the Governor assents to the bill, the hotel licensing law of 2003 becomes amended, adding the law has  been expanded to include the regulation of tourism practice.

He   explained that the former law which stipulates that no person shall  operate or keep any brothel without obtaining license or permission  from the Hotel and Tourism licensing authority has been amended to  read that no person would be allowed to operate a hotel  establishment or practice tourism in Lagos State in any premises  without first obtaining the license of the authority.

He  explained that the penalties prescribed under the former law are so  outdated that it has witnessed high level of disobedience with  maximum penalties ranging between N100 and N200 for offences.

The  Special Adviser also said the new law has also given power to Hotel and Tourism Licensing Authority to standardize, regulate and grade the  various hotels and tourism businesses operating in Lagos State in  line with best practices.  He said the Commissioner responsible  for managing the provisions of the new law is the Honourable  Commissioner for Tourism and Inter-Governmental Relations.

The  event was witnessed by members of the State Executive Council including  the Commissioner for Tourism and Inter-Governmental Relations,  Senator Tokunboh Afikuyomi, the Chairman of the House of Assembly  Committee on Local Government, Hon Onibiyo Adelabu, representatives  of the National Association of Travel Agents and Association of  Lagos Hoteliers.


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