The declaration of COVID-19 as a global pandemic in January 2020, has led to international travel restrictions, national travel bans and subnational lockdowns, leading to massive cancellations of tourism and hospitality services in destinations all over the world. Consequently, the travel, tourism and hospitality sectors in Nigeria have, unimaginably, taken a direct hit with attendant tales of woes including corporate bankruptcies and large-scale job losses. Speaking to news reporters in Abuja, Alhaji Saleh Rabo, the National President of the Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN) revealed that the adverse impact of the rampaging COVID-19 on Nigeria’s budding tourism and hospitality industry is unimaginably 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 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. Considering the enormous contributions of travel and hospitality sectors to the nation’s overall economic growth and massive employment of labour.”
Fielding questions from reporters, Alhaji Rabo further called on the Federal government to, as a matter of national economic emergency, provide financial intervention and other palliatives to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on tourism and hospitality industry.
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 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, set-up of a tourism advisory council, and the establishment of a Tourism Development Fund. FTAN is the umbrella body of all the Nigeria private-sector tourism business owners and operators. Established in 1997, at the behest of the Federal Government of Nigeria, to serve as the go-between government agencies and tourism industry stakeholders, FTAN is made up of 23 tourism-trade associations and professional groups that cumulatively represent the largest number of tourism enterprises across Nigeria.