by Olalekan Okusan, ITTF-Press Officer
Lagos is the smallest in area among Nigeria’s 36 states; it is arguably the most economically important state of the country; it is a major financial centre.
Notably, Kweku Tandoh, Executive Chair of the Lagos State Sports Commission, believes the staging of the annual tournament has given the state on international limelight as well as exposed its tourism potentials to the world.
Kweku Tandoh explained:
“The 2018 ITTF Challenge Seamaster Nigeria Open is indeed a unique event that started out as the Lagos International Table Tennis Classic in 2013. Just after one year of its coming into existence, the success of the event attracted the attention of the ITTF into approving its inclusion in the ITTF annual calendar of events. The event has continued to grow in leaps and bounds.
The impact of the Nigeria Open on Lagos State has been huge and beneficial in many respects. For example, the event annually attracts tourists from all over the world into the State. It has helped to showcase the beneficial synergy between sport and tourism, a major area of focus for Governor Akinwunmi Ambode.
In addition, many Lagos State athletes are now annually exposed to meeting, watching and playing international players. It has helped to improve their own performances. Commerce and local business also thrive in the State during the Nigeria Open, as there are increased commercial activities in and around the venues, hotels improve occupancy rates and sponsors and partners have an opportunity to market their products and make brisk sales.
Of course the period of the event and its international flavour, international media exposure all helps to ensure that Lagos State is in the international spotlight. Another benefit to the State is the opportunity the event offers our Sports Commission staff to build capacity in the area of sport.
This year Lagos State has improved upon its partnership contribution as promised by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, during the finals of last year’s event. We are also working closely with the Local Organising Committee to ensure that this year’s event is bigger and better in all ramifications.
Nigeria Open offers us the opportunity to use sporting events to boost tourism. The event will also be listed in the Lagos State Tourism Annual Calendar. We also intend to incorporate bus and boat tours for the visiting athletes and officials and also expose them to the sights, sounds, arts and culture of the State.
Many of the international players who have attended previous events have become “tourism ambassadors” for the State as they always look forward to coming back to Lagos.
We always work to improve the facilities for the event, not just the playing facilities but also in terms of accommodation and other logistics. We have added a couple of new hotels for this year’s event so as to improve the hospitality level for the players and officials. Transportation and catering are also not left out. By the grace of God, His Excellency Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State will attend this year’s event. I recall he thoroughly enjoyed last year’s finals and was quite impressed with the standard of organisation.
As the Executive Chair of the Lagos State Sports Commission, my expectation for this year’s Nigeria Open is that we will surpass all that has been achieved in the past regarding this event. We will put in all the hard work that is required to enable us attain greater heights, working closely with the Local Organising Committee and the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation.”