Following the announcement by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu disclosing that the sum of N1billion has been approved as seed capital for investment in the tourism sector, the State Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mrs. Uzamat AkinbiIe-Yusuf, has rolled out other palliative measures approved for practitioners in the industry to drive the growth of hospitality, tourism and entertainment businesses in the State. The Commissioner, speaking at a press conference held in Alausa, Ikeja, on Wednesday, clarified some.grey areas in the earlier pronouncement made by the Governor on the recommendations submitted by the Lagos State COVID-19 Pandemic Review Committee constituted to critically assess and review the negative impacts of the pandemic on tourism and the creative sector in the State. “It is my pleasure and honour to inform Lagosians that Mr. Governor has graciously approved the release of N1 billion as seed capital for investment in tourism to drive the growth of hospitality, tourism and entertainment businesses”, she stated.
According to her, the gesture is aimed at providing key operators in the tourism business with soft loans to boost their capacity in driving growth and also position tourism business as a new frontier for job creation and economic prosperity in the post-Coronavirus era. Akinbile-Yusuf explained that the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture will work, hand in hand, with the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund, LSETF, to administer the single digit loan to practitioners that meet the criteria set by the Ministry and LSETF. Highlighting other measures put in place by the State Government to guarantee quick recovery of the tourism sector, Akinbile-Yusuf said the incentives include 50% rebate for licence and renewal fees payable to the Ministry by all hospitality, tourism and entertainment establishments across the State. Others are: “The establishment of a platform to commence working relationship with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for access to COVID-19 tourism sector fund, a Creative Financial Initiative fund to be made available to practitioners in the State; the establishment of Tourism Endowment Fund, in conjunction with the Ministry of Justice, to improve the tourism and entertainment sector in the State; and training of practitioners in the creative industry through the Lagos Creative Academy amongst others".
The Commissioner also reminded practitioners in the hospitality and entertainment industry that the window of opportunity to register their establishments with the Ministry is still open, stressing that these relief programmes can only be accessed by registered practitioners and emphasising that no hospitality establishment will be allowed to operate in the State without due registration with the Ministry. While appreciating the State Governor for increasing the number of people allowed in social gatherings to a maximum of 50 persons, the Commissioner said the directive signals a gradual recovery of activities in the entertainment and creative sector. She, however, pleaded with the practitioners not to abuse the privilege or misconstrue this additional easing of the lockdown as a means to open up, noting that night clubs and beaches remain closed until a further directive from the State Governor. Responding, the Chairperson of the Lagos State COVID-19 Pandemic Review Committee, Mrs. Joke Silva acknowledged the passion of the Governor to ensure that the tourism and entertainment industry recovers within the shortest time possible. "As a matter of fact, the Governor has actually approved all that we recommended because we proposed the sum of N2billion in all for our members. What the Governor did was to approve N1billion in the form of cash while the other N1billion was approved in the form of waivers. We are aware of the fact that the State government has not also generated revenue as proposed for the year 2020 because of inactivity of some of the mainstream sectors occasioned by the pandemic," Mrs. Silva said. While commending the initiative of the State government to establish a Tourism Endowment Fund, she explained to practitioners in the tourism and entertainment industry that the N1billion approved as seed capital would be made available to the most vulnerable practitioners to ensure that they are not sent out of business permanently. Silva envisaged that the initiative will put the practitioners in Lagos State at par with their contemporaries across the globe.