Runsewe Calls for Faster COVID-19 Testing to Boost Tourism Sector

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By Charles Ajunwa

The Director General National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), Segun Runsewe, has called for deep measures of support for tourism sector in 2021, through faster COVID-19 testing and certification process.

The reality of a new strain of the pandemic, coupled with very stringent measures for inbound travels across board with partial lockdown affecting out door recreation, hospitality business and impacting on jobs, have advanced additional burden on industry players, not knowing how to survive next year.

But Runsewe, who also doubles as President, Africa Region of the World Craft Council (WCC), stated that there’s need to create a deliberate climate of assurance and faith for the cultural tourism economy to avoid depression and continued loss of jobs which the industry is known to champion to break unemployment and empower rural development.

“We certainly welcome the news of vaccination to help curb the spread of the pandemic but we must give the Nigerian tourism and culture sector some form of protection and confidence to get hold of a strategic survival plan through faster COVID-19 testing response and certification. The industry must breathe in 2021 and show grit, he noted.

Taking a look at the bleak and worrisome situation facing the industry, the NCAC boss believes an enthronement of an effective monitoring and compliance with COVID-19 protocols, supported faster COVID-19 testing ecosystem and certification can boost the confidence in the troubled tourism economy, strengthen capacity for service providers, create more tourism jobs as against predicted losses inspired by COVID-19 and expand existing pillars of national integration, love for our history and heritage.

“The fear of another strain of the pandemic is very alarming but we must respond with a chain of confidence building processes, carefully driven through one-to-one engagement with cultural tourism practitioners and geared towards creating additional domestic travels, empowering the hospitality and creative sector to sustain jobs, provide services compliant with COVID-19 protocols with a decentralised faster COVID-19 testing and certification process that can generate double digits growth for the industry in 2021,” he added.

Runsewe explained further that NCAC took to strategic engagement with relevant and critical stakeholders during the year to frustrate the fear and anxiety of COVID-19 pandemic, praising the efforts of NCDC and Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 for creating the enabling environment for cultural tourism sector to thrive, adding that Nigerians should discourage the stigmatisation of COVID-19 victims and also remember that NCDC and the PTF consciously and deliberately took to the awareness campaign on COVID-19 to reduce community spread.

“We should not fear 2021 but must carefully navigate all the challenges likely to face us through a dedicated bank of faster COVID-19 testing response mechanism, decentralised and promoted with industry leadership in order to power the sector to growth instead of doom in 2021,” Runsewe emphasised.