The Federal Government of Nigeria has been called upon by the Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN) to boost the nation’s tourism sector amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
President of FTAN, Alhaji Saleh Rabo said this at a press conference held in Abuja, with the theme: “Impact of COVID-19 on Nigeria’s Tourism, Travels and Hospitality industry.”
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that FTAN recently published a 10-page position paper on the debilitating impact of COVID-19 pandemic on Nigeria’s hospitality, travel and tourism industry which was presented to the Federal Government.
He said that FTAN was the umbrella body of all the Nigeria private sector tourism business owners and operators.
Rabo added that the association presently comprised numerous hospitality and tourism-related trade and professional associations in the country.
He noted that the emergence of COVID-19 pandemic In Nigeria in January 2020 has led to international travel restrictions, national travel bans and sub-national lockdowns, leading to massive cancellations of tourism and hospitality services in destinations all over the world.
“Consequently, the travel, tourism and hospitality sector in Nigeria have, unimaginably, taken a direct hit with attendant tales of woes including unprecedented financial losses, large-scale job losses and corporate bankruptcies.
“Since the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, hotels and sundry tourism businesses in the country have lost hundreds millions of Naira from services cancellations and disruption in sales including revenues from destinations handling.
“Packaged tours, room bookings, event venues, food and beverages, rented space, entertainment and other ancillary hospitality services.
“The association hereby appeal to federal government as a matter of national emergency, to provide palliative to FTAN members’ businesses, and also include the tourism and hospitality sector in the proposed post COVID-19 intervention funds.
“We call on the government, through the Economic Sustainability Committee and the Central Bank of Nigeria, to provide N150 billion intervention fund for FTAN members in the hospitality and tourism industry,” he added.
The president also added that the N150 billion intervention funds should be provided in multifaceted monetary and fiscal measures, including, but not limited to the following interventions namely:
“Low interest loans; this will provide expansionary fiscal policy by the provision of single digit interest loans to tourism and hospitality businesses.
“Then, Import Duty Waivers, Tax Reliefs, Financial Grant’s, Incentives Tourism Investment, Domestic Tourism Promotion and lastly, Establishment of Tourism Development Fund.”
He added that to guide against future collapse of the hospitality and tourism sectors, the government should partner FTAN and work out modalities of establishing a Tourism Development Fund.
Rabo also said that when government failed to financially intervene to save the tourism and hospitality industry during the COVID-19 pandemic, half of over 2.5 million Nigerians working in the industry would irreversibly lose their jobs.
“Additionally, the 40 per cent annual purchase of agro-allied produce by hospitality operators in the country would be reduce by 10 per cent, if not completely obliterated,” he said.
Also speaking at the event, Mrs Susan Akporiye, President National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies, urged government to come to the aid of the hospitality and tourism industry.
She said that in April 2020, over 125, 000 jobs has been lost, adding that, tourism was one of the largest employers of labour that has provision for all in the country.