At least, 770,000 jobs were lost in Nigeria’s tourism and hospitality sectors due to outbreak of Coronavirus and the resultant restrictions between 2020 and this year.
About $4.5 trillion were lost by the tourism and hospitality sectors as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide, regional director for World Travel & Tourism Council, Mr Andrew Brown has disclosed.
According to Brown, women accounted for 54 per cent of all jobs in travel and tourism industry.
He made the disclosure at the focused group forum on the business of tourism, hospitality, entertainment and sports policy commission of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) with the theme “Repositioning Nigeria’s Tourism and Hospitality sectors for Sustainable Growth and Profitability.”
Pre-covid 19, travel and tourism accounted for 330 million jobs worldwide and that figure is expected to grow to 440 million by 2030.
Brown encouraged operators in the sectors to adopt safe travel steps and implement protocols that will help travelers feel safe when they travel. He also urged stakeholders to encourage all activities that will foster an equitable environment that will allow women thrive in the workplace.
Chairman, Tourism Consultants Forum, Alhaji Aminu Agoha said there is a need to eradicate multiple taxes in the hospitality industry and strengthening of the power sector to make it cheap and available.
Proprietor of Rosebud Hotels in Abuja, Chief Tomi Akingbogun, said apart from dealing with the problem of insecurity, Nigeria has to ensure proper infrastructural development including railways and good road networks to aid tourism. He said there is also the need to improve in the ease of doing business ranking to encourage investors to aid the development of the sector.
On her part, the CEO of Tantalizers Plc, Ms Bose Ayeni said that the hospitality is experiencing problems of instability as a result of regulatory, operational, infrastructural and logistical costs. She said the sectors experience multiple taxation from federal to subnational governments. She said financial institutions should provide long-term loans with a favourable period of re-payment.
Co-chair of the policy commission and board member of the NESG, Mr Udeme Ufot said Nigeria is uniquely positioned as an all-year round tourism destination with a strong domestic tourism sector; rich natural resources; and a variety of associated attractions including music, entertainment, sports, religion and a very rich cultural heritage.
Ufot said the NESG is committed to sectoral reforms to fix some of the challenges bedeviling the Nigerian tourism and hospitality industry, including the absence of comprehensive databases of operators, nor clear, identifiable sector value chains to properly reposition the industries as viable business sectors of the economy, not fully adopted mainstream best practices in technological innovations and digital transformation initiatives and an absence of formal recognition of the linkages between sports, culture, entertainment, creative industries (arts/crafts inclusive), agriculture, cuisine, the environment, infrastructure, transport, security as enablers for the exponential growth of the tourism and hospitality.
Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Dr Ifeoma Anyanwutaku said tourism has tremendous growth opportunities for the Nigerian economy and that the sectors continue to have potentials for growth. She said the sectors have economic and socio-cultural impacts on the environment and plays a role in economic development including having significant potentials to aid the utilization of natural resources by providing employment and promoting inflow of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and foreign exchange earnings for the country.
The comptroller-general of Nigerian Immigration services, Muhammed Babandede said the NIS has liberalized entry for Nigerians to help aid the sector. He said the NIS recognizes other forms of tourism. He said religious tourism should be encouraged and the visa policy should be addressed to aid the development of the sector.