The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has called for a ‘Marshall Plan’ to aid the recovery of the Travel andTourism Sector in Africa, in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic thathas hit the sector very hard.
”It is imperative for the United Nations World Tourism Organization(UNWTO) to support Africa with a ‘Marshall Plan’ of sorts, in termsof technical assistance, capacity building and grants,” the Ministersaid in his intervention during the 63rd Meeting of the UNWTO RegionalCommission for Africa (CAF), hosted virtually by Seychelles on Monday.
He said the fastest way for the Travel and Tourism Sector in Africa torecover from the effects of the pandemic is to focus on domestic andintra-Africa tourism.
Alhaji Mohammed said following the outbreak of the pandemic, theFederal Ministry of Information and Culture had to act quickly,because the impact of the pandemic has been particularly devastating,due to its importance and relevance to the national economy.
”The Travel and Tourism sector and indeed the entire Nigeria CreativeIndustry is large, diverse, dynamic and critical for economic growth,development and diversification. It is the biggest creator of jobsafter agriculture. Also, the Industry contributes between 2.5 and 3%to the nation’s GDP,” he said.
The Minister told the meeting that a 22-member stakeholders committeehas been established and tasked with working out the immediate, shortand long term economic stimulus and initiatives for the industry, inorder to mitigate the effect of the pandemic.
”The committee, with membership drawn from the Tourism, Hospitality,Music, Film, Fashion, Photography and Broadcasting media, amongothers, is tasked with assessing the expected impact of the pandemicon the industry in general; advising the Government on how to mitigatejob and revenue losses in the industry as well as to create succorfor the industry small businesses; suggesting the type of taxation andfinancing that are best for the industry at this time to encouragegrowth, and advising the Government on any other measure or measuresthat can be undertaken to support the industry.
”We are rejigging the National Endowment for the Arts to align itwith 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 themeasures we are putting in place will yield positive results insustaining the Creative Industry in Nigeria,” he said.
Alhaji Mohammed said the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has also established a 50 billion Naira stimulus package to help mitigate theimpact of the pandemic on households, Micro, Small and MediumEnterprises (MSMEs) and the Creative Industry.
He said as Nigeria gradually opens up, just like the rest of theworld, new protocols are being put in place for the safety andsecurity of all, listing such measures as training of personnel onsecurity and safety measures, infection control, adherence togovernment protocols, enhanced hygiene measures, use of personalprotective equipment and facility sanitation.
The Minister commended the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), which has pledged US$500 million for the Creative Industry in Africa,saying the support will come in handy ”as our sector seeks to recoverfrom the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic”.