FG Seeks Tourism ‘Marshall Plan’ to Aid Post-Covid-19 Recovery in Africa
*Says N50bn stimulus package by CBN to mitigate impact of pandemic on MSMEs, Creative Industry
By Joel ThankGod (Abuja):
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has called for a ‘Marshall Plan’ to aid recovery of the Travel and Tourism Sector in Africa, in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic that hit the sector very hard.
”It is imperative for the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, UNWTO, to support Africa with a ‘Marshall Plan’ of sorts, in terms of technical assistance, capacity building and grants,” the Minister said in his intervention during the 63rd Meeting of the UNWTO Regional Commission for Africa (CAF), hosted virtually by Seychelles on Monday.
He added, “The fastest way for Travel and Tourism Sector in Africa to recover from the effects of the pandemic is to focus on domestic and intra-Africa tourism.
“Following the outbreak of the pandemic, the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture had to act quickly, because the impact of the pandemic has been particularly devastating to the national economy.
”The Travel/Tourism sector and indeed the entire Nigeria Creative Industry are large, diverse, dynamic and critical for economic growth, development and diversification. It is the biggest creator of jobs after agriculture. Also, the Industry contributes between 2.5 and 3 percent to the nation’s GDP.
“A 22-member stakeholders committee has been established and tasked with working out immediate, short and long term economic stimulus, as well as initiatives for the industry, in order to mitigate the effect of the pandemic.
”The committee, with membership drawn from the Tourism, Hospitality, Music, Film, Fashion, Photography and Broadcast media, among others, is tasked with assessing the impact of the pandemic on the industry in general; advising Government on how to mitigate job and revenue losses in the industry, as well as giving succor for the industry small businesses; suggesting the type of taxation and financing that are best for the industry at this time to encourage growth, while advising government on measures that can be undertaken to support the industry.
”We are rejigging the National Endowment for the Arts to align it with the current realities. We are also studying the new set of guidelines/recommendations by UNWTO, as well as the ‘Safe Travel Protocols ‘ designed by World Travel and Tourism Council, WTTC, for the purpose of domesticating them. I have no doubt that the measures we are putting in place will yield positive results in sustaining the Creative Industry in Nigeria”.
According to him, “The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, has also established N50billion stimulus package to help mitigate impact of the pandemic on households, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, MSMEs and the Creative Industry.
“As Nigeria gradually opens up, just like the rest of the world, new protocols are being put in place for safety and security of all. Such measures as training of personnel on security and safety measures, infection control, adherence to government protocols, enhanced hygiene measures, use of personal protective equipment and facility sanitation”.
The Minister commended African Export-Import Bank, Afreximbank, which pledged US$500 million for the Creative Industry in Africa, saying the support will come in handy, ”as our sector seeks to recover from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic”.