Tourism seeks N45.5 billion economic stimulus fund, rejigs plan
The Federal Government has been urged to accord priority to the tourism industry in its economic recovery plan, by allocating stimulus package in excess of N45.5 billion to the sector.
The call, made by the Institute for Tourism Professionals of Nigeria (ITPN), among other demands, sought financial intervention of N15.5 billion for job losses, pay cuts, sustainable professional competency training for members across the country and N30 billion economic stimulus for the sector.
The investment, according to ITPN, would cushion the effects of the coronavirus disease pandemic, ensure productive stability and contribution to the national economy.
Other areas of intervention required in the sector includes the grant of moratorium period for all bank facilities accorded operators in the travel hospitality and the tourism sub-sectors for a period of not less than six months. Tax free regime in the Q1 and Q2 of year 2020 as part of post-Covid-19 intervention. And immediate promotion of domestic tourism as an inward strategy to boost inbound tourism due to impending dwindling fortunes of international travel bans and restrictions.
The National President of the Institute, Abiodun Odusanwo, noted that the tourism sector is the hardest hit in the current global Covid-19 pandemic because of the multi-varying nature and economic activities of the sector that entails movement of people and services.
Odusanwo added that these activities had been completely hampered by the restrictions placed on the movement of people and lockdown of most parts of the country.
He said: “Worldwide generally, tourism and hospitality industry is very badly affected by the pandemics because of the nature of the business, which is always related to the travelling of people. History has shown that epidemics and pandemics have an immediate impact on the hotels and restaurants, airlines industries, travel agencies, and so on, due to the international travel restrictions and government measures of imposing lockdowns.”
He observed that what the tourism sector was witnessing were travel restrictions and recommendations leading to outright cancellations of travel and accommodation bookings.He said as long as the pandemic lasts, the impact on tourism would be irreversible leading to a myriad of operational challenges and losses.
Odusanwo said in economic terms, hotels would lose billions from cancellations; smaller hotels will stop operation because they can’t afford to do so; unemployment would skyrocket in the sector; travel agencies and tour operators will go bankrupt; transfer companies will be economically destroyed, and all forms of travels will be completely grounded.
“The labour force in the sector will suffer similar fate as employees will be forced to take unpaid leaves and a few offered part-time works, where skeletal services are offered. This is where tourism professionals, who are members of ITPN, will be in greater dilemma and at risks of confronting survival in a sector that has become comatose.”
The downside economic impacts of Covid-19 globally has necessitated various governments at all levels to initiate palliative and intervention measures to cushion the impacts of the pandemic on individual citizens and operating multi-sectorial economics and businesses.
In Nigeria, the Federal Government, through the Central Bank, said it was planning to help small, medium-sized businesses, airlines service providers, hotels, healthcare workers benefit from a $136 million intervention fund and the provision for economic stimulus of up to $2.7 billion. This is in addition to an intervention initiative of the government of the reduction of interest rates for loans.
For the purpose of ensuring transparency and inclusiveness in tourism grant, the ITPN President proposed that members of ITPN be involved to actively participate in the intervention measures and fund disbursement processes.
He said that the institute was disposed to galvanise the inputs of all sub-sectorial key players and critical stakeholders in terms of figures and data for a holistic inclusion of all to benefit from the intervention and palliative measures.
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