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Lolu Akinwunmi Calls For Destination Branding To Change Lagos Tourism Narrative

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L-R: Mrs Nkechi Ali-Balogun, Principal Consultant, NECCI Consulting; Mr. LOlu Akinwunmi, MD, Prima Garnet and Goddie Ofose, immediate Chairman, BJAN
L-R: Mrs Nkechi Ali-Balogun, Principal Consultant, NECCI Consulting; Mr. LOlu Akinwunmi, MD, Prima Garnet and Goddie Ofose, immediate Chairman, BJAN

A renowned advertising practitioner, Lolu Akinwunmi, Group Managing Director of Prima Garnet Africa has called for destination branding to help change the tourism narratives of Lagos and other parts of the country.

He pointed that what visitors see first and experience have a lasting impression on their thought about a state or country. He said the first contact visitors have with Lagos or Nigeria starts with the Airport, and the poor state of the toilet and unwelcoming smell at Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos put people off and make them have a negative perception about the country.

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The assertion was made at the 6th Annual Brands and Marketing Conference with the theme “Brand Lagos: Challenges, Opportunities and Lessons” held at the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) building recently, an event organized by Brand Journalists’ Association of Nigeria (BJAN).

Destination branding is describing the experience of the place to the consumers and the formation of the experience in terms of the facilities, amenities and other resources that the area can provide.

Akinwunmi explained further that now is the time to make Lagos a tourism destination with destination branding campaigns and this would help boost its economy and that of the country at large.

Stating the challenges of Lagos as a major branding destination, he said the state road networks have suffered major neglect despite many of such roads belong to the federal government. He explained further that the state is over sketched in terms of population and this demand that the state continues to evolve in order to manage the situation and other challenges.
“Lagos is overpopulated, there is infrastructure deficiency which is noticeable especially as the first port of entry to the country – the Airport suffers poor electricity supply, conveyor belt problems, harassments by uniformed staff, leaking ceilings and more.” He said.

In addition, he said, the other challenges confronting the state’s destination branding initiatives are financing, the civic attitude which include indiscriminate dumping of refuse and other vices.

On the contrary, he explained that there are a lot of opportunities that the state boasts of. According to him, Lagos offers colour and varieties, its government is determined to make the state a Mega City, it is also equally investing in tourism, sport, cultural event, transportation, security, and entertainment.

However, he said more can be done, in the area of setting up an Ad-hoc committee on Lagos branding business support group, Lagos State branding fund, social mobilization and civic campaign.

“There should be a strategic brand management plan which goes beyond the traditional approach of brand promotion and involves understanding the stakeholders’ values and needs (Town Hall meetings, Village Square meetings, Professional/Civil Society/Students/Interest Groups engagement etc) and projecting the brand assets of Lagos,” Akinwunmi pointed.

Meanwhile, the Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode who was represented at the event by the Commissioner for Information, Kehinde Bamigbetan explained that the state has been offering loans to businesses through Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF), beefing up security, providing more infrastructure, tax harmonization and among others to make living in the state peaceful. He added that the state website is now redesigned to help people understand the city.

He, therefore, urged the private sector to take advantage of the opportunities in the state to promote tourism and their businesses.
In line with this, African Public Relations Association (APRA) President, Yomi Badejo-Okusanya charged the government to engage professionals in communication campaigns in order to attract the required result. He pointed out that the state boost of the practitioners in Advertising, Public Relations, Experiential and others adjudged leaders in Africa who should be engaged to handle the communication campaigns and branding of the state.

Other stakeholders present advised Lagos State government to partner with Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) on way to make the first point of contact at the Airport and other areas attractive and decent. Also, the government was advised to partner with other state governments on a dry port to reduce the level of congestion at Apapa port.

In the same vein, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) Ikeja Branch Chairman, Otunba Francis Meshioye urged the government to rethink and create industrial estates as most manufacturers are relocating to Ogun State.

The event was attended by the crème de la crème in the integrated marketing communication (IMC) profession and awards were also given to deserving individuals for their contribution to the growth of the IMC industry. Some of the awardees are Jimi Awosika, Vice Chairman Troyka Group; Lolu Akinwunmi, MD Prima Garnet; Udeme Ufot, MD, SO&U; Akin Adeoya, Group CEO, Marketing Mix; Yomi Badejo-Okusanya, CEO, CMC Connect Burson-Marsteller; Felix King Eiremiokhae, CEO, Oracle Experience; Alhaji Garba Bello Kankarofi, former Registrar Advertising Practitioner Council of Nigeria (APCON), David Okeme, Chief Commercial Officer (CCO), Remita and amongst others.

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