The Oniru of Iru Kingdom in Lagos, Oba Omogbolahan Lawal, has urged Hilton International hotel group to invest in the tourism sector of the city.
Lawal stated this when he received the management of Hilton International Group and Africa Alliance Group in his palace on Sunday in Lagos.
The team was led by the group’s Managing Director for Sub-Saharan Africa, Mr Andrew McLachlan and Chairman, African Alliance Group, Mr Gregory Ozegbe.
Lawal said that the focus of the kingdom was to further develop the tourism sector with hospitality at the core.
He added that Iru Kingdom was ready to give investors whatever support needed in order to create an enabling environment for their businesses to thrive.
The Oniru noted that his well thought out vision was the development of the kingdom in the tourism sector, technology as well as social interventions.
He added that this was captured in the document titled “#LEGILT- ‘Let’s Grow Iru Land Together”, and would go a long way to help the Hilton group in identifying areas for collaboration.
According to him, the kingdom has demonstrated the wherewithal to ensure that Nigeria is a good economic centre in West Africa.
“The kingdom hosts 40 per cent of the people in the formal economy in Lagos, be it financial institutions, hospitality, businesses, even oil companies and other companies in the communications industry.
“We believe that Lagos is the commercial hub of Nigeria and Iru Kingdom is the financial hub of Lagos and that means without this kingdom, there is no Lagos.
“The investment climate is robust. I am sure that you have done your research and realised that people who have invested here have continued to thrive.
“The Eko Atlantic City which is also within the kingdom and by the time it comes on board, this entire area will have to catch up and tag along with the project.
“In doing this, we want foreign and local investors to be on standby for when the city will fully begin operating with opportunities,” Lawal said.
Earlier, McLachlan said that Iru kingdom was strategically located to potentially develop a fantastic urban hotel.
McLachlan said it would be a great space to meet for business as well as the ability to offer leisure activities on weekends because of its unique location on the Atlantic Ocean.
He explained that bearing the strategic importance and location of Iru kingdom, Hilton Development Company intended to establish its brand presence in the area.
He said the group would set up a hotel in the area which would in turn drive up the economic and tourism potentials of the kingdom.
According to him, Iru Kingdom, being the financial hub of Lagos with over 40 per cent of the state’s revenue generated from the area,is a focal target for the Hilton brand as any business set up there will thrive.
“Hilton is very serious about growing portfolio brands in Africa, especially Nigeria with Lagos being the financial hub of Nigeria, if not Africa.
“The Iru kingdom is strategically located where we are able to potentially develop a fantastic urban hotel which has the ability to be a great space to meet for business and the ability to offer leisure activities on the weekends because of its unique location on the Atlantic Ocean.
“It is already a proven business hub of Lagos; for us, it is very important to find a great location and once we have that, we can develop and run a unique hotel.
“Bringing a new hotel to this area of Lagos is going to create lots of job opportunities during the construction period.
“Once the hotel is open for business with the locals in the supply chain, this project will have a ripple effect on the local economy in Iru Kingdom and Lagos in general,” McLachlan said.
He said that the 101-year- old Hilton development group with 18 different brands from luxury to economy had been doing hospitality business in Africa for almost 30 years and in Nigeria for 18 years.
He said the group as such understood the Nigerian market particularly well and was very committed to growing its brands across Africa.
“In the 18 years that I have been doing business in Nigeria, I have seen the hospitality sector grow significantly from having few hotels in Lagos in the early 2000 and today there are more of global brands and the level of hospitality has improved significantly and the level of services has grown.
“Lagos is a city of over 20 million people and if you look at the total brand supply in Lagos, it is still very small, so there is a lot of opportunity for more hotels to come to Lagos.
“There is still an undersupply of quality hotels in Lagos. Hilton is a 101-year company but we don’t have any hotels in Lagos, Victoria Island or Iru, hence the importance,” McLachlan said.
Also, Ozegbe expressed gladness that the Oniru was receptive and willing to lend a supporting hand to the group in exploring the business potentials in the kingdom.
Ozegbe stated that given the personality and the background of the Oniru, it was very easy to structure a working relationship based on his vision for Iru Land.
“Africa Alliance Group is based in South Africa but has tentacles in about six countries in Africa doing infrastructural development focusing on hotels and promoting different brands.
“We have a partnership with the Hilton Worldwide hotel group in the last few years and we are working together to develop and build some Hilton hotels in Nigeria.
“As you know, Lagos holds a very important place in Nigeria’s economic climate and the landscape of Lagos tells it all.
“If you look at the #LEGILT document, you will understand what the Oniru has put together as a precursor to develop Iru Land and it gives us great pleasure to be a part of that thinking and mentality.
“The Oniru has made everything easier,” Ozegbe said.