Stakeholders in hospitality, travel and tourism sector have urged the Federal Government to assist in reviving the business through access to grants and loans during and post-COVID-19 era.
They made the observation during a Hospitality and Tourism Stakeholders Engagement Series virtual meeting monitored by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Lagos.
The meeting with the theme: “The Trend in Hospitality and Tourism Workspace after COVID-19’’, was organised by a group, Grand Search Publication (GSP).
Speaking at the forum, Mrs Susan Akporiaye, President, National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA), said that the sector was the worst hit during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to her, there is the need for government to assist the sector to regain its strength through funding to reposition it for the enormous losses recorded during the pandemic.
The NANTA president called for tax holidays from the Federal and State Inland Revenue Service to enable the sector to survive after the long lockdown.
“You can imagine that the loss in hospitality, travel and tourism sector was huge because hotel, lodging, restaurants, foods and beverages, recreation, entertainment sector, education, medical, agricultural and sports are all connected to the sector.
“That is why it is called sector of life, hence the reason for it being the worst hit.
“After the lockdown was eased, the measures that were put in place by the government totally flattened the business.
“The safety protocols that were to be put in place were expensive, as some stakeholders could not meet up with the conditions and hence the need to close shop,’’ she said.
Akporiaye, however, appealed that the sector should not be neglected to bring back the strength of the nation.
Another stakeholder, Mr Olumide Metilelu, Deputy Rector (Academics) and Chief Lecturer in Hospitality Management at Lagos State Polytechnic, also called for total support for the sector.
According to Metilelu, the Convener of the GSP, there is the need for stakeholders engagement to proffer lasting solutions to the effect of the COVID-19 on the business.
“I urge the government to provide a lasting solution, so that students who are still in school will not wander about looking for jobs, as many hospitality businesses may fold up if not given attention.’’
NAN reported that among other participants at the virtual meeting were Mr Gbenga Sunmonu, Fellow, Nigeria Hotel and Catering Institute and Prof. Wasiu Babalola, Chairman, Institute of Hospitality UK-Nigeria.