COVID-19 Vaccine nationalism hinders restart of tourism— Lai Mohammed
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has said that COVID-19 vaccine nationalism is hindering the efforts being made to restart the tourism sector, following the devastating blow it suffered as a result of the pandemic.
The Minister who stated this in Birnin Kebbi, Kebbi State, during his address at the 44th edition of the United Nations World Tourism Day 2021 (WTD) celebration themed Tourism for Inclusive Growth, noted that the tourism sector, which is people-driven, can only open up effectively and contribute to economic growth when the people are adequately protected from COVID-19. He added that vaccine nationalism has heightened the inequality and inequity in the global vaccine distribution system.
“Today, rich countries are able to procure vaccines for their own citizens through direct agreement with pharmaceutical companies, while low and middle income countries are lagging, unable to act as speedily as rich countries in securing the quantity of vaccines they need or unable to afford to pay for any at all. So, while some rich countries are already talking of third booster shots, many low and middle-income countries have not even given the first shot to their citizens. Added to this is the restriction placed on the citizens from certain countries by the rich nations. These restrictions are made possible by the use of vaccine passports, as well as the low level of vaccination in the low and middle income countries due to vaccine nationalism, such that rich countries mop up available vaccines, hence subduing all the efforts put into restarting tourism.”
Lai Mohammed, however, called on the rich countries of the world to retrace their steps and embrace a collective and equitable global strategy for COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing, procurement, and distribution, adding that they must also stop ineffective nationalistic disposition in COVID-19 responses.
“It is our collective responsibility to ensure that tourism remains a sector of hope, providing opportunities for empowerment and entrepreneurship for people and education. I enjoin all stakeholders to place inclusiveness at the centre of their strategies in order to develop a safe, unique and overwhelming experience for visitors.”