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Africa: Tourism stakeholders in Nigeria reject government’s Covid-19 creative industry committee

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Leading practitioners and stakeholders in the tourism industry in Nigeria have called on the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed to, as a matter of urgency, set up a separate COVID-19 Tourism Committee, like the one put in place for the creative sector.

This, according to the stakeholders, has become necessary in the light of tourism and hospitality sector being the hardest hit by the pandemic worldwide.
In addition, the stakeholders express unhappiness with what they perceived as the relegation of the tourism industry to the background in favour of the creative industry.

Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN), Chief Samuel Alabi expressed his unhappiness with the inability of the Federal Government, through the supervisory ministry of Information and Culture to carry private sector investor in hospitality and tourism industry practitioners along.

He said: “Since the time of ex-tourism minister Edem Duke, you will observe that the creative industry has been given an edge in the Ministry of Information and Culture. If you also observed, the NIHOTOUR Board of Trustees Chairman then, was an artiste.

“So, you will see the trend of events, you will see that the ministry is edging towards giving more attention to the creative industry in lieu of the core tourism industry. It is the same mistake that occurred when the then President Goodluck Jonathan granted intervention fund or grant to the creative industry. So, because of that fund, the successive ministers of tourism always align with that.”

Alabi said it was a mistake on the part of the ministry to always put the creative industry ahead of the core tourism sector. He lamented that the ministry has relegated the tourism industry to the background despite its huge importance to the country’s economy.

“I cannot understand the reason for making a person from the creative industry in charge of tourism. I see no reason for it those that are supposed to lead the committee are now the bank benchers.”

The FTAN President, Alhaji Saleh Rabo also expressed his unhappiness with the ministry of Information and Culture is handling the issue regarding the impact of COVID-19 on the tourism and hospitality industry.
He said in an interview with a local television station: “We wrote a position paper on the impact of the COVID-19 and the hospitality and tourism industry.

We were expecting them to call us and sit down with us because the know the kind of contribution we make to the GDP of the country and in terms of employment, the number of people the hospitality and tourism industry employs.

But unfortunately, yesterday we just saw a list of the creative industry committee. As far as I am concern, that is the creative industry committee not the tourism industry committee. There is nobody from the tourism industry. We were just mentioned by the side that we were expected to bring in our nomination.

If you are creating an industry that has to do with the tourism industry, are you not expected to make the tourism practitioners the majority members of that particular committee? That was not done.

We remember last week, when the minister was asked a question about tourism during the press briefing of the presidential task force on COVID-19, he was speaking on creative industry. I think something is wrong. The best way to achieve success and to be able to move forward is for them to call us.

We are the drivers of the tourism industry. Government set the environment for us to work well, but if they don’t call us for us to discuss, I don’t think we can achieve anything. As it now, they are not inviting us; they are not telling us anything. I went to see the minister twice.”

Meanwhile, the FTAN President had revealed that the adverse impact of Covid-19 on Nigeria’s tourism and hospitality industry is catastrophic.

Accordingly, the President appealed to the Federal Government of Nigeria to include domestic Tourism and Hospitality businesses and operators in the planned N500 billion Covid-19 intervention fund and other proposed palliative measures.

Alhaji Saleh Rabo said, “The inclusion of Nigeria’s Tourism and Hospitality industry in the Federal Government’s Covid-19 economic stimulus package and palliative measures is expedient and justified.”

Alhaji Rabo pleaded that “the Federal Government of Nigeria should rapidly intervene to save our industry by implementing tourism business-friendly fiscal and monetary measures, up to the tune of One Hundred and Fifty Billion Naira.

However, we recommend that the government, through the Economic Sustainability Committee, should apply the N150 billion intervention fund on a combination of different forms of fiscal and monetary measures and palliatives including operational tax reliefs, investments tax holidays, import duty waivers, financial grants for domestic tour operators and other struggling SMEs in the industry.”

Alhaji Rabo continued that, “Aside from government’s fiscal and monetary intervention measures, Nigeria’s tourism industry urgently requires transformational tourism development policies and programs to both jumpstart and sustain exponential growth of the industry.”
The FTAN President went ahead to list and to describe some tourism development policies which could be implemented in Nigeria to promote sustainable tourism development including to Incentivize Tourism Investment, Domestic Tourism Promotion, Tourist Host Community Programs, setup of a Tourism Advisory Council, and the Establishment of a Tourism Development Fund.

Source: thenationonlineng.net

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