The Executive Chairman of the Lagos State Sports Commission, Kweku Tandoh, has stated that the yearly International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Challenge Nigeria Open has projected the state as a tourism centre in the world.
The $46,000 prize money five-day championship, which began as a Classic, later blossomed into an Africa’s elite table tennis tournament holding at the Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall of Teslim Balogun, Stadium in Lagos between August 8 and 12.
Tandoh said the success story of the tournament has brought the attention of the governing body into approving it and listing it as one of the events of the year in its yearly calendar.
“The ITTF Challenge Nigeria Open is indeed a unique event that started out as the Lagos International Table Tennis Classics in 2014.
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 yearly calendar.
“The impact of the Nigeria Open on Lagos State has been huge and beneficial in many respects. It has attracted tourists from all over the world into the state.
It has helped to showcase the beneficial synergy between sports and tourism, a major area of focus for Governor Akinwunmi Ambode,” he said.
He added that a lot of the state’s athletes are now exposed to international matches, which has contributed immensely to their performances in recent years.
“In addition, many Lagos State athletes are now annually exposed to meeting, watching and playing with international players and is 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 help 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 sports event planning and organization,” Tandoh said.
For 2018, Kweku Tandoh said: “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 (LOC) to ensure that this year’s event is bigger and better in all ramifications.
“Nigeria Open offers us the opportunity to use sports/ 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/or 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.”