The Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN), has called on the Federal Government to make provision for palliative measures for tourism industry, to reduce the impact of COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr Rabo Saleh, National president of FTAN, made the call in Abuja on Tuesday.
According to him, Federal Government recently announced N500 billion COVID-19 palliative measures and intervention fund for different sectors of the Nigerian economy.
The FTAN president appealed to the government to include domestic Tourism and Hospitality business operators in the N500 billion COVID-19 intervention fund.
“The inclusion of Nigeria’s Tourism and Hospitality industry is expedient and justified, considering the enormous contributions of the industry to overall economic growth and employment of labour in Nigeria.
“Most importantly, aside from government fiscal and monetary intervention measures, Nigeria’s tourism industry, urgently requires transformational, development policies and programmes to jump-start and sustain growth of the industry.
“Such tourism industry-specific and incentivizing government policies and programme have hitherto been lacking, in spite of the measurable contributions of tourism and hospitality businesses to national development.
“We pay a large chunk of taxes to the government including Pay As You Earn (PAYE) and corporate taxes.
“FTAN members and other operators in the industry employ over 12 million Nigerians as direct labour, and well over that as indirect labour.
“In 2015 alone, over 9, 000 new hotels emerged across Nigeria, apart from governments and the agriculture sector, tourism industry is the largest employer of labour in Nigeria,” Saleh said.
Saleh regretted the scourge of COVID-19 on tourism and hospitality businesses in the country.
He noted that from January till date, hotels in Nigeria had lost hundreds of millions of Naira from services cancellations and disrupted sales.
According to him, as the current travel restriction and regional lockdown continues, smaller hotels will have to stop operations due to lack of patronage.
FTAN president said if the federal government failed to financially intervene to save Nigeria’s tourism and industry from the adverse economic impact of COVID-19, half of the over 12 million Nigerians working in the industry would irreversibly lose their jobs.
He added that the 40 per cent annual purchase of agro-allied produce by hospitality operators in Nigeria would be reduced to less than 10 per cent, if not completely obliterated.