Tourism has become a big wage earner with its innate potential to create jobs and drive economic growth. Countries like the Emirates have put it at the center of their economic development plan as it contributes about $20billion annually. Even our neighbor, Ghana, has said that Tourism is the 4th highest contributor to their GDP. The potential is huge in Nigeria, especially with our very infectious entertainment industry that is gaining a lot of attention around the world.
Travel & Tourism is critical to economic development and job creation throughout the world. In 2016, Travel & Tourism directly contributed US$2.3 trillion and 109 million jobs worldwide.
There are several anchors to encourage the growth of travel and tourism – one of such is Sport. Running for 7years, COPA Lagos has constantly brought sport teams to Nigeria who always leave with a great experience of our culture and lifestyle. COPA Lagos is a beach soccer tournament and a lifestyle event that brings beach soccer teams from across the world, fashion brands and beach lovers to experience three days of sport entertainment. The event ranks as one of the top 5 most important beach soccer events on the Beach Soccer Worldwide’s calendar; the FIFA equivalent for beach soccer.
COPA Lagos 2017 has come and gone but it has left in its wake memorable moments and experiences that will be treasured for a long time to come. This year saw the presence of leading beach soccer teams from across the world like the Lebanon Beach Soccer Team, Spanish Beach soccer team and Arsenal BSC, who were visiting Nigeria for the first time and before the event ended there were already interests from other countries for the next edition. This edition also saw, for the first time, the female celebrities slug it out in a beach soccer game. It likewise had the first beach soccer team from Lagos Gidi Sharks, the team was scouted and trained by Beach Soccer Veteran Angelo Shirinzi.
Events like COPA Lagos exposes our culture and lifestyle to the world and this is not just about the field of play. Kinetic Sports, organizers of COPA Lagos 2017 put adequate logistics in place to give foreign teams an experience whilst in Lagos. They are taken through a tour of exciting spots and landmark locations. As such they get to meet a spectrum of the Nigerian society within their short stay in Lagos.
Also, these foreign countries have nationals living in Lagos who came out en-masse during the tournament to support their national side. Particular mention is the Lebanese contingent who stormed the venue in their numbers and was extremely vocal in their support of the Lebanese team. These people who ordinarily would not have left the comfort of their homes to attend such events, attended owing to the sense of belonging that stems from the participation of their countries in the event.
Travel & Tourisms’ impact includes people travelling for both leisure and business, domestically and internationally. In 2016, 76.8% of all travel spend was as a result of leisure travel, compared to 23.2% from business travel. An event like COPA clearly remains a major attraction for tourism with enormous potential as it’s not just a sporting event but also a lifestyle event. Its fashion show brings the best of Nigerian designers to showcase their designs. The matches are played in an atmosphere of music and fun fair that gets the players more attracted to our lifestyle.
Organising an event of this magnitude comes with its numerous job opportunities directly and indirectly. For instance, a campus is set up solely for the purpose of this three-day event. This requires a considerable amount of manpower. The hostels, travel and feeding opportunity for over 15,000 people in three days is a rare occurrence. Given the scope of COPA Lagos 2017, technical support and partnership saw many foreign personnels involved in the tournament. Members of organizations such as Beach Soccer Worldwide, FIFA, referees came in from their respective bases across the borders of Nigeria. Even some of the production staff, partner organizations and diplomats all converged in Lagos for COPA Lagos 2017.
There was also an exchange of culture on and off the field of play. Top scorer, Nassim El Hadaoui of Morroco and crowd favorite, Llorenc of Spain were known to constantly celebrate their goals by dancing to Nigerian songs. Off the pitch, traders made brisk sales from the Nigerian-merchandize. Thus foreign exchange also accrued to the nation as a result of numerous transactions that were related to COPA Lagos 2017.
COPA Lagos 2017 reinforced the fact that Lagos and Nigeria as a country has all the trappings of a preferred tourism destination. This contribution to the clout and economy of Nigeria by COPA Lagos 2017 using tourism is worth applauding.