Over the years, successive governments in Lagos State and at federal level have overlooked the contributions of the Synagogue Church of All Nations [SCOAN], as the public relations tool for the country’s economy.
Though, the exact time of first foreigners coming to the church was not known, but there are records to show that as far back as late 1990s Europeans, Africans, especially from Southern Africa, Nigeria Diasporas, Asia among others started visiting the church for religious activities.
In spite of SCOAN contributions to the state’s and Nigeria’s image abroad, there has been very little coordination or assistance to ensure that the visitors enjoy additional tourism experience while in the country.
Rather, both the state and the federal government agencies deliberately distanced themselves from SCOAN, and thereby denying the country the full earnings that would have accrued to the nation therein.
Just liked African Travel Times magazine published in its last edition, Synagogue Church remains the most visited attraction in Nigeria. The potential of the church to attract more visitors has not even been scratched, and the current monthly inflow into Lagos could triple if the state and federal governments put in place or direct its energy when marketing the country abroad, to this wonderful comparative product, [religious tourism] that SCOAN offers Nigeria.
The only crowd-pulling attraction in Lagos State is Synagogue Church, located within its territory, and deserves all assistance that could enhance the community where the church is located, especially the free flow of human and vehicular movements.
Unlike in other climes, basic infrastructure would have been provided by the state government. As at today, there are no good roads, pipe borne water, even good markets within the church environs. If Lagos is really serious that it wants to develop tourism, decent markets or malls would have been built around Ikotun, where visitors to Synagogue Church can purchase Nigerian fabrics, memorabilia, decent restaurants and Lagos Tourist Information Office that would regularly provide information about other activities in the state to the visitors.
In the last two and half decades, there has been more small medium size hospitality development around Ikotun, Egbeda, Isolo and Igando, all suburbs of Lagos, than any other parts of the state because of the church, yet, the government is still not taking SCOAN contribution seriously.
Also, there are verifiable evidences that the economies of these aforementioned communities are largely dependent on the existence and activities of the church. One therefore, wonders why the state and the federal governments over the years would be careless of the positive impacts or contributions of the church.
As Lagos State begins a journey into its real and desirable tourism industry with the just concluded Lagos State Tourism Submit held on Monday 16th of April, 2018, there are clear indications that efforts are being channeled in the right direction, but the low hanging fruit has not been exploited at all [Synagogue Church of All Nations] .
However, like many would say that the devil is usually in the details, the tourism master plan that is being worked on as made public on Monday 16th of April at the just concluded ‘Lagos State Tourism Summit’, did not reveal much of a state that wants to cash in on the nascent industry.
Even before the summit, there was argument among practitioners and associations in the sector whether Lagos State Government carried them along.
According to our sources, Earnst and Young lack the necessary experience to produce a master plan for a state like Lagos without inputs from practitioners.
Messages exchanged among tourism practitioners made available to this publication, revealed disagreement among them as to what was the best way the state should have approached the master plan issue, especially in a state where there is dearth of tourism administrators.
Without doubt, the tourism industry in Lagos State is hospitality and religious tourism based.
Unfortunately, nobody spoke on the aforementioned; rather, the Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture only played the script of his interest which is entertainment.
By Lucky Onoriode George [Lagos]