75% of tourism budget goes into recurrent expenditure, operators cry out
• ‘We did not benefit from COVID-19 palliatives’
The Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN) has rued the government’s lack of support for the sector, even as it claimed that N60 billion of the N80 billion (75 per cent) budgetary allocation for the sector is used for recurrent expenditure.
The group stated this, yesterday, as it marked World’s Tourism Day in collaboration with the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) in Lagos.
The President, FTAN, Nkereweum Onung, said the tourism industry, which was the hardest hit during the pandemic, has never benefited from government interventions.
He said the sector did not receive the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s interventions to cushion the effect of the pandemic on the economy.
“Tourism is the private sector investment that has suffered the most. If we are making recoveries, what did the government do concerning our businesses? Most organisations, hotels, and travel agencies were shut down for one year.
“We were told by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele, that more than 3.5 per cent of our gross domestic product (GDP) was used for interventions during the pandemic. But the tourism sector did not feel it. We are telling the government to rethink its approach to tourism in Nigeria.
“The government makes a budget every year, check the last seven years, mostly N80 billion is made available as tourism budget and N60 billion is recurrent. We are saying that the government should re-profile the budget properly. Let us have more capital expenditure than recurrent expenditure to develop tourism,” he said.
Onung also lamented about the plan to merge parastatals under tourism, warning that such a move would cripple the sector.
“We are pleading with the Federal Government about the attempt to merge parastatals of tourism. They should not be merged; they should rather be funded; rejig their operational modalities to enable them to do much better than they are doing right now.
“The deadly pandemic reduced our jobs, a million jobs were lost in the tourism sector. We need to do more to create more jobs. In rethinking tourism, there is a whole lot of things we need to be looking at,” he said.