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Culture and Tourism

Nigeria Seeks Tourism ‘Marshall Plan’ To Aid Post-COVID-19 Recovery In Africa

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Joel Ajayi

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has called for a ‘Marshall Plan’ to aid the recovery of the Travel and Tourism Sector in Africa, in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic that has hit the sector very hard.

 ”It is imperative for the United Nations World Tourism Organization(UNWTO) to support Africa with a ‘Marshall Plan’ of sorts, in terms of technical assistance, capacity building and grants,” the Minister said in his intervention during the 63rd Meeting of the UNWTO
Regional Commission for Africa (CAF), hosted virtually by Seychelles on Monday.

He said the fastest way for the Travel and Tourism Sector in Africa to recover from the effects of the pandemic is to focus on domestic and intra-Africa tourism.

Alhaji Mohammed said following the outbreak of the pandemic, the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture had to act quickly, because the impact of the pandemic has been particularly devastating, due to its importance and relevance to the national
economy.

”The Travel and Tourism sector and indeed the entire Nigeria Creative Industry is large, diverse, dynamic and critical for economic growth, development and diversification. It is the biggest creator of jobs after agriculture. Also, the Industry contributes between 2.5 and 3%to the nation’s GDP,” he said.

The Minister told the meeting that a 22-member stakeholders committee has been established and tasked with working out the immediate, short and long term economic stimulus and initiatives for  the industry, in order to mitigate the effect of the pandemic.

”The committee, with membership drawn from the Tourism, Hospitality, Music, Film, Fashion, Photography and Broadcasting media,  among others, is tasked with assessing the expected impact of the pandemic on the industry in general; advising the Government on how to mitigate job and revenue losses in the industry as well as to create succor for the industry small businesses; suggesting the type of taxation and financing that are best for the industry at this time to encourage growth, and advising the Government on any other measure or measures that can be undertaken to support the industry.

 ”We are rejigging the National Endowment for the Arts to align it with the current realities. We are also studying the new set of guidelines/recommendations by the UNWTO as well as the ‘Safe Travel Protocols ‘ designed by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC)for the purpose of domesticating them. I have no doubt that
the measures we are putting in place will yield positive results in sustaining the Creative Industry in Nigeria,” he said.

Alhaji Mohammed said the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has also established a 50 billion Naira stimulus package to help mitigate the impact of the pandemic on households, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and the Creative Industry.

He said as Nigeria gradually opens up, just like the rest of the world, new protocols are being put in place for the safety and security of all, listing such measures as training of personnel on security and safety measures, infection control, adherence to government protocols, enhanced hygiene measures, use of personal protective equipment and
facility sanitation.

The Minister commended the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), which has pledged US$500 million for the Creative Industry in Africa, saying the support will come in handy ”as our sector seeks to recover from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic”.

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Culture and Tourism

Cross River govt signs over N2bn deal on entertainment centre

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The Government of Cross River State, through one of its agencies, the Cross River State Tourism Bureau, signed an expandable N2 billion deal on Friday with a development partner, Blake Excellency Resort Limited, for the establishment of a one-stop entertainment centre.


The Managing Director of the Cross River State Tourism Bureau, Prince Ojoi Ekpenyong, revealed that the entertainment centre would be located in the Tortulga Island area of the Marina Resort, which has remained deserted for the past two decades.


He described the investment as an additional benefit because it would take people off the streets while providing more than 200 job opportunities for the state’s people.

He stressed that the state’s revenue would increase.


Ojoi maintained that the state is ready to open up to business and is willing to cooperate with any investor who can create job opportunities and significantly develop the state’s economy.On his part, the Chief Executive Officer of Blake Excellency Resort Limited, Mr. Uzochukwu Akunedozi, said the entertainment center would accommodate kids, youths, and senior citizens.


He noted that the facilities expected in the entertainment center include a dining restaurant, lounge, a pool, boat cruise, water slides, gaming center for kids, and a floater that can accommodate 50 to 60 people who wish to celebrate their birthdays or any events on top of the water, among other features.


“Blake Resort is meant for entertainment; it has hosted people from across the globe, and the testimonies are there to verify. We are here to add value to what has been done in Cross River State. I’m excited because I feel privileged to be part of what the Cross River State government is doing, which is tourism, and without an iota of doubt, Cross River State is the number one tourist destination in West Africa.


“I’m in a hurry to deliver, and I’m in a hurry to do more than I have said. Our duty is to exceed your expectations. We are looking at between now and October; we should be hitting the ground running”, he added.


Witnessing the signing, the Special Adviser to the Governor on general duties, Barrister Ekpenyong Akiba, expressed satisfaction with the partnership deal and assured that the state government would continue to create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive in the state

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