By Chuks Nwanne
The Institute for Tourism Professionals of Nigeria (ITPN) has urged the Federal Government to accord priority to the tourism industry in all its economic stimulus and intervention initiatives to bring productive stability in the national economy that has suffered due to the Covid-19 global pandemic.
In a statement the National President of the Institute, Chief Abiodun Odusanwo, noted that the tourism sector is the hardest hit in the current global pandemic because of the multi varying nature and economic activities of the sector that entails movement of people and services. He added that these activities have been completely hampered by the restrictions placed on the movement of people and lockdown of most parts of the country.
“Globally, tourism and hospitality industry is very badly affected by pandemics because of the nature of the business, which is always related to the travelling of people. History has shown that epidemics and pandemics have an immediate impact on the hotels and restaurants, airlines industries, travel agencies and others due to the international travel restrictions and government measures of imposing lockdowns.”
The group observed that what the tourism sector is currently witnessing are travel restrictions and recommendations leading to outright cancellations of travel and accommodation bookings, adding, “As long as the pandemic lasts, the impact on tourism will be irreversible leading to a myriad of operational challenges and losses.”
Odusanwo said in economic terms, hotels would lose billions from cancellations, while small hotels might have to close operations for lack of patronage.“Unemployment will skyrocket in the sector; travel agencies and tour operators will go bankrupt. Transfer companies will be economically destroyed and all forms of travels will be completely grounded. The labour force in the sector will suffer similar fate, as employees will be forced to take unpaid leaves and a few offered part time works where skeletal services are offered. This is where tourism professionals, who are members of ITPN, will be in greater dilemma and at risks of confronting survival in a sector that has become comatose.”
He enumerated areas of intervention required in the sector to include grant of moratorium period for all bank facilities granted operators in the Travel, Hospitality and the Tourism Sub-sectors for a period of not less than 6 months; Tax Free regime in the 1Q and 2Q of year 2020 as part of Post Covid-19
Intervention; Immediate promotion of domestic tourism as an inward strategy to boost inbound tourism due to impending dwindling fortunes of international travel bans and restrictions and financial intervention of N15.5 billion for job losses, pay cuts, sustainable professional competency training for members across the country and N30Billion economic stimulus for the sector.
For the purpose of ensuring transparency and inclusiveness, the ITPN President posited that members of ITPN be involved to actively participate in the intervention measures and fund disbursement processes, saying that the Institute is readily disposed to galvanising the inputs of all sub-sectorial key players and critical stakeholders in terms of figures and statistical data for a holistic inclusion of all to benefit from the intervention and palliative measures.
The downside economic impacts of Covid-19 globally has necessitated various governments at all levels to initiate palliative and intervention measures to cushion the groaning impacts of the pandemic on individual citizens and operating multi-sectorial economics and businesses.
In Nigeria, the Federal Government, through the Central Bank, says it is planning to help small, medium-sized businesses; airlines service providers, hotels, health care workers benefit from a $136m intervention fund and the provision for economic stimulus of up to $2.7 billion. This is in addition to an intervention initiative of the government of the reduction of interest rates for loans.“ITPN welcomes this as a lofty development and good omen for the resuscitation of the national economy for all key players,” he said.