COVID-19: Lagos Seeks Soft-Landing For Tourism Associations
Lagos State Government has assured practitioners in the tourism sector of necessary assistance that would help assuage the negative impact which COVID-19 has imposed on their businesses, assuring them of a soft-landing after the pandemic. The Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Pharmacist (Mrs.) Uzamat Akinbile-Yusuf stated this at the stakeholders’ meeting held with Executive members of tourism associations in Lagos State at Ikeja on Friday.
She said that the meeting between the government and stakeholders was organised to develop a more coordinated relationship with the practitioners to engender a win-win situation, even in the face of threats posed to their operations. According to her “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, for now, was a painful one but also an indispensable move needed to control the spread of the virus. “As a government, we realise 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”, she asserted. While calling on members of the Association to bare their minds on workable solutions and suggestions that would ease the resuscitation of the industry after the COVID-19 experience, the Commissioner stressed that a slow but very decisive and steady recovery process is inevitable going forward. In her words: “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”, she added. Also speaking, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mr. Solomon Bonu revealed that the State Government is already considering the re-ordering of the Year 2020 Budget as a way of refocusing the direction of government expenditure in view of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Responding to some requests from members of the tourism associations on the need for government incentives, Bonu explained that a similar request for palliatives had earlier been raised by owners of restaurants and some other stakeholders in the tourism sector, stressing that government would consider a very suitable means of reducing the hardship caused by the pandemic in the various sectors. The Special Adviser said, “The truth is that the State Government is also affected greatly by this pandemic. For instance, the price of crude oil which is one of the major sources of revenue to the government has fallen drastically ditto the Internally Generated Revenue of the State. In spite of all these, the State government will still consider a workable solution for the sector”. He advised the practitioners that 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 President of Federation of Tourism Associations, Lagos State Chapter, Mr. Gbenga Sunmonu, who spoke on behalf of the practitioners, thanked Lagos State government for carrying them along in decisions that affect the tourism sector since the inception of the COVID-19 pandemic. He restated the determination of members of the Association to give the State Government necessary support in following all the operational guidelines already released by the Government, disclosing that the Association has also concluded plans to make hotel accommodation available to the government for quarantine purposes.