Despite the devastating effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the tourism industry in the country, tourism practitioners had cause to look forward to better times following stakeholders’ meeting between executive members of tourism associations and Lagos State government on Friday in Lagos.
The meeting was convened by the Lagos chapter of the Association of Federation of Tourism Associations.
The Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mrs. Uzamat Akinbile-Yusuf, assured tourism practitioners of necessary assistance, saying, “The present situation of COVID-19 which had posed a great challenge to our collective goals is of serious concern, not only to your Association but to the State Government as well, hence the need for us to come up with a post-pandemic road map for this sector and easy take-off of your businesses when the fight against this disease is eventually won.”
Akinbile-Yussuf maintained that the decision of the government to suspend all tourism-related activities was necessary to contain the spread of coronavirus.
She added, “As a government, we realize that it is only when your businesses thrive that the economy of the state can be more vibrant which, would in turn, positively affect the IGR of the government. As a result of this, be assured that we would not take decisions that have negative impacts on your existence without due diligence.”
To show the government’s commitment to better synergy with tourism stakeholders, Akinbile-Yusuf unveiled a master plan for tourism in the state.
She said, “The document provides for a unified and enabling framework for promoting, tracking, and improving tourism in the state. More than ever before, the present state of tourism businesses globally provides an opportunity for the state government to develop and make tourism more inviting and attractive to its local tourists.”
Continuing, she stated, “In view of this present situation globally, I urge you all to bear in mind the inevitability of a gradual recovery process and the need to tread softly when the sector eventually becomes fully operational. As such, the desire for profits must not be at the expense of the safety and life of your customers or staff.
“I implore you not to compromise any of the operational guidelines that the Ministry had already outlined and others that would still be brought to your attention in the course of our interactions.”
Also speaking, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Tourism, Arts, and Culture, Mr. Solomon Bonu, said, “The truth is that the State Government is also affected greatly by this pandemic. I advise the practitioners rather than asking for a partial re-opening of hotel operations, they should consider the overall effect of their request on the generality of the masses, pointing out that the lives and safety of the citizenry and their customers must not be compromised for any reason.”
The Coordinator of AFTA, Lagos chapter, Mr. Gbenga Sunmonu, the government for carrying stakeholders in the sector along amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Associations in attendance include Nigeria Association of Tour Operators (NATOP), Hotel & Personnel Services Association (HOPESEA), Restaurant & Fast Food Services Proprietors Association of Nigeria (REFSPAN), National Association of Nigeria Travel Agents (NANTA), Association of Tourists Boat Operators of Nigeria (ABTOWAN), Association of Travel and Tourism Writers of Nigeria (ATTWON), Nigeria Hotel and Catering Institute (NHCI), Lagos Hoteliers Association (LHA), Institute of Tourism Professionals of Nigeria (ITPN).