As countries around the world look forward to using tourism to drive recovery plans in the post Covid19 Pandemic era, Delta state coordinator of the umbrella private sector regulatory organisation in Nigeria, Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN), Mrs Evelyn Gbesoko, has appealed to government to evolve tourism recovery schemes to cushion the negative impact on the tourism industry, while stressing on the significance of the theme of this year’s World Tourism Day celebration, which is “tourism and rural development”.
According to Mrs Gbesoko, the tourism industry empowers rural communities, in providing jobs and other opportunities, notably for women and youth, adding that tourism is one of the major sources of income for the people living in the rural communities, just as it helps them to hold onto their unique cultural heritage and traditions, and at the same time, acting as an auxiliary in safeguarding habitat and endangered species.
She maintained that in many rural places, tourism has been one of the few feasible economic sectors that engabes women whose lives are intrinsically linked to the sector, reiterating that tourism enterprises in Delta state needed encouragement from the government in form of palliatives, loans and grants to enable them recover quickly from the Covid-19 Pandemic losses as is the common trend all over the world.
Speaking with newsmen at the weekend in Warri, Delta state, in commemoration of the 2020 World Tourism Day, with the theme: “Tourism and Rural Development”, she appealed to the state government to look in the direction of the critical tourism business owners by carrying them along in the recovery plans to enable operators to bounce back on their feets.
The FTAN state coordinator commended Governor Ifeanyi Okowa for putting in place structures that would enhance Delta state’s tourism offerings such as the Arts and Crafts Training Centre, at Emede, Heritage Carnival and Delta Music Festival and the proposed Film Village, to be known as Delta Entertainment District, which will improve the state’s internally generated revenue (IGR) and create jobs in line with the governor’s tourism development agenda, with a view to making Delta state a preferred tourist destination in the country.
She however lamented that tourism has been among the hardest hit of all sectors by the COVID-19 pandemic, saying that women, youth, and workers in the informal economy were the most at risk from tourism sector job losses and business closures due to the pandemic and that Delta state was not an exception.
“The coronavirus pandemic has dealt a crippling blow to the travel and tourism industry and the entire value chain that is linked to the tourism sector in its entirety, including inbound, outbound, domestic, leisure, adventure, heritage, MICE, cruise, corporate and niche segments.
“From the global statistics, the organised tourism sector alone is likely to lose USD 25 billion. The figures are quite alarming and the industry needs immediate measures for survival”, the FTAN coordinator hinted.