By Lucky Barth, Abuja, Nigeria.
The Nigerian government says that infrastructure development is a boost to the growth of the country’s tourism sector.
The country’s Information and Culture Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed disclosed this in Abuja during the 2nd African Ministerial Roundtable on the recovery of Travel and Tourism organised by the Africa Tourism Board.
During the virtual meeting, the Minister revealed that issues of investment in infrastructure development, visa liberalization as well as strategic interventions by the government during the covid 19 pandemic period are key to the stimulation of domestic tourism going forward.
Alhaji Mohammed said Nigeria is blessed with the human and natural resources to drive the sector, however, stated that security is also paramount in growing the tourism sector hence the government is doing everything possible to secure the country, put infrastructures in place so that the sector can achieve its maximum potentials.
During a session of experience sharing among the African Tourism Ministers at the virtual meeting on what has been put in place to revamp the hospitality sector, the Minister said to reposition the hospitality industry post covid for enhanced economic stability,the government focused on Job preservation and job retention among other very critical interventions .
He also revealed that the administration established the Economic Sustainable Committee (ESC) with a view to bring succour to the economy while the pandemic last.
The Commiittee also designed other interventions to boost domestic value-addition and provide support to both State Governments and business sectors tgat have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The Minister mentioned some of the policies as; Unlocking available funds in Special Accounts to create a N500bn intervention fund.
Further more, the establishment of the Finance Act 2020 in support ofMEMEs as well as the establishment of the Tax Resolution and Settlement Unit among others.
“There was also the Extension of deadlines and suspension of penalties for filing tax returns.
Then the well-thought-out support to strategic industries and sectors affected by the pandemic,such as the Aviation, Hospitality and the Road Transport sector.”
“There was support to private businesses especially, strategic sectors that are most affected by the pandemic as well as vulnerable segments of the population.”
On the need to reboot domestic tourism during and after the pandemic, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said that easing of ban on Inter-State travels, which has been effected has impacted the economy positively.
He also disclosed that the commencement of domestic flights, which has started has also helped to align the economy proper.
Alhaji Mohammed said the government has done the right thing by putting in place Health and Safety measures, which is being spearheaded by the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19.
“We embarked on proper utilization of information and communication of the necessary guidelines and protocols as well as monitoring to ensure adherence to approved guidelines and protocols that are in place atleast before the emergence of a vaccine.”
The Nigerian tourism sector is the second largest employer of labour in the country after agriculture as it employs about 4 million people and contributes 13.6 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product.