The Oniru of Iru Kingdom, His Royal Majesty Oba Omogbolahan Lawal, Absisogun II has urged the management of Hilton Group International to come and explore the potentials that exist in Iru Kingdom with a view to tapping from the opportunities that exist therein to further develop its tourism sector.
The Oniru gave the admonition in Lagos over the weekend when he received in audience at his palace both the managements of Hilton Group International and Africa Alliance Group led by the Managing Director, Hilton Development, Sub-Saharan Africa, Mr. Andrew McLachlan and Chairman, African Alliance Group, Mr. Gregory Ozegbe respectively.
Oba Lawal pointed out that the focus of the Kingdom was to further develop the tourism sector with hospitality at the core adding that his Kingdom was ready to give investors whatever support was needed in order to create an enabling environment for their business to thrive.
The Oniru noted that his well thought out vision for the development of the Kingdom in areas such as the tourism sector, technology as well as social interventions as captured in the document titled #LEGILT- ‘Let’s Grow Iru Land Together’ would go a long way to help the Hilton Group in identifying areas for collaboration.
“The Kingdom has demonstrated the wherewithal to ensure that Nigeria is a good economic centre for West Africa. The Kingdom hosts 40% 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 realized that people who have invested here have continued to thrive. You know of Eko Atlantic City which is also within the Kingdom; by the time it comes on board, this entire area will have to catch up and tag along and in doing this, we want foreign and local investors to be on standby for when the City will fully begin operating with opportunities,” Oba Lawal stated.
Earlier, the Managing Director, Hilton Development, Sub-Saharan Africa, Mr. Andrew McLachlan noted that Iru kingdom was strategically located to potentially develop a fantastic urban hotel which would be a great space to meet for business as well as the ability to offer leisure activities on the 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 intends to establish its brand presence in the Kingdom with a view to setting up a hotel in the area which will, in turn, drive up the economic and tourism potentials of the Kingdom.
According to McLachlan, Iru Kingdom, being the financial hub of Lagos with over 40% of the State’s revenue generated from this area, was a focal target for the Hilton brand as any business set up there would 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. 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 and once the hotel is open for business through the locals as the supply chain; this will have a ripple effect on the local economy in Iru Kingdom,” McLachlan asserted.
He noted that the 101-year Hilton Development Group with 18 different brands from luxury to economy, had been doing hospitality business in Africa for roughly 30 years and in Nigeria for 18 years and as such it understands the Nigerian market particularly well and is 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 2000s 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 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 opportunities 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 opined.
In the same vein, the Chairman of African Alliance Group, Mr. Gregory Ozegbe expressed gladness that the Oniru of ire Land, Oba Omogbolahan Lawal was receptive and willing to lend a supporting hand to the Group in exploring the business potentials in Iru 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.
“What we have been doing is to facilitate projects like this for the development of different cities in Nigeria. As you know, Lagos holds a very important place in Nigeria’s economic climate. The landscape of Lagos tells it all.
“Given the personality and the background of the present Oniru of Iru land, it was very easy to structure a working relationship based on his vision. If you look at the #LEGILT document, you will understand what he has put together as a precursor to develop Iru Land. It gives us great pleasure to be a part of that thinking and mentality. He has made everything easier,” Ozegbe noted.