The Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) has renewed its commitment to the UNWTO guidelines for effective re-opening and recovery of the tourism sector. Mr Folorunsho Coker, the Director-General of the corporation, made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Abuja. Coker acknowledged that the tourism sector was one of the worst-hit in the global effect of Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, stressing that it needs urgent attention.

He emphasised that there was a compelling need for intervention to save the tourism sector from total collapse. The director-general recommended creating dedicated tourism support schemes for MSMEs, entrepreneurs and the self-employed as one of the measures to curb COVID-19 effect on the sector.

He also said that providing exceptions, reductions or deferred tax and fiscal payments a well as critical bills for companies, self-employed and workers, especially for the most vulnerable, was another requirement for effective re-opening. According to him, these would help reduce the adverse effects of COVID-19 on the tourism sector in the society, if put in place. “We must set up financial instruments to facilitate liquidity (moratoria on loans repayments, loan guarantees or flexible credit loans for working capital).

A review of cancellation policies considering consumers’ rights and the urgency of liquidity for companies. We must support workers and help job seekers transition into new jobs in the NEW NORMAL and ensure dialogue between Companies and Workers’ Unions. “We must be clear to travellers on what to expect, rights and guarantees if falling sick while travelling in Nigeria where our approach must be a human-centred communicating empathy, reassurance and connection. “Our communication campaigns should be geared towards confidence-building including the safety measures undertaken by the destinations and companies,” Coker said.

He, however, noted that it was imperative to recover confidence through setting proportionate safety and hygiene protocols to reduce risks throughout the whole tourism value chain and in each step of the traveller’s journey. The NTDC boss added that provision of clear information to travellers on existing measures in place at destinations and companies were also measures that would help kick start the tourism sector. According to him, the guide emphasises that Public-Private collaboration for an efficient reopening is key.

To establish mechanisms for public-private collaboration in the definition and implementation of health-related protocols “We must create actionable and proportioned protocols in full coordination with the private sector and health authorities to ensure they are scientific, evidence-based and applicable. No policy based on hearsay. “We must share knowledge and good practices set mechanisms to support the adaptation of companies, destinations and the training of their staff. “We must invest in better and shared data systems,” Coker further advised. (NAN)

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