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Nigeria persuades UN for grants, technical supports on African tourism

By Idowu Abdullahi,

Towards ensuring a smooth take-off for Africa’s tourism after total control has been gained against coronavirus, the Federal Government has urged the United Nations World Tourism Organization(UNWTO) to support the continent with grants and other measures to aid quick recovery of the travel and tourism sector.

It explained that the request had become imperative following the effect of the global pandemic which had hit the continent, particularly its tourism and travel sector which had shut down as part of governments’ guidelines to mitigate the spread of the virus.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said part of the measures needed from the UNWTO includes a ‘Marshall plan’ as guidelines and other technical assistance to help the continent on its road to recovery post-COVID-19.

Mohammed who made the request on behalf of the apex government in his intervention during the 63rd Meeting of the UNWTO RegionalCommission for Africa (CAF), hosted virtually by Seychelles on Monday, maintained that the fastest way for the sector in Africa to recover from the effects of the pandemic is to focus on domestic and Intra-Africa tourism.

“It is imperative for the United Nations World Tourism Organization(UNWTO) to support Africa with a ‘Marshall Plan’ of sorts, in terms of technical assistance, capacity building, and grants,” a statement from the Minister’s media aide, Segun Adeyemi, quoted him as saying.

Briefing the meeting on the steps taken by the Nigerian government to rescue the sector, the Minister said theFederal Ministry of Information and Culture had, after the outbreak of the virus, inaugurated a 22-member stakeholders committee tasked with working out the immediate, short and long term economic stimulus and initiatives for the industry, in order to mitigate the effect of the pandemic.

“The Travel and Tourism sector and indeed the entire Nigeria Creative Industry is large, diverse, dynamic, and critical for economic growth, development, and diversification. It is the biggest creator of jobs after agriculture. Also, the Industry contributes between 2.5 and 3%to the nation’s GDP

“The committee, with membership drawn from the Tourism, Hospitality, Music, Film, Fashion, Photography and Broadcasting media, among others, is tasked with assessing the expected impact of the pandemic on the industry in general; advising the Government on how to mitigate job and revenue losses in the industry as well as to create succor for the industry small businesses; suggesting the type of taxation and financing that are best for the industry at this time to encourage growth, and advising the Government on any other measure or measures that can be undertaken to support the industry.

“We are rejigging the National Endowment for the Arts to align it with the current realities. We are also studying the new set of guidelines/recommendations by the UNWTO as well as the ‘Safe TravelProtocols ‘ designed by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC)for the purpose of domesticating them. I have no doubt that the measures we are putting in place will yield positive results in sustaining the Creative Industry in Nigeria,” the statement read.

 

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