While asserting that recurrent expenses account for 60% of the N80 billion (75% of the sector’s budgeted allocation), the Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN) lamented the government’s lack of support for the industry.
The organisation made this statement yesterday while celebrating World Tourism Day in Lagos in partnership with the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA).
The tourist sector, which was the one most severely impacted by the epidemic, has never benefited from government assistance, according to FTAN President Nkereweum Onung.
He claimed that the sector did not benefit from the efforts made by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to lessen the impact of the pandemic on the economy.
“Tourism is the private sector investment that has suffered the most. If we are making recoveries, what did the government do concerning our businesses? Most organisations, hotels, and travel agencies were shut down for one year.
“We were told by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele, that more than 3.5 per cent of our gross domestic product (GDP) was used for interventions during the pandemic. But the tourism sector did not feel it. We are telling the government to rethink its approach to tourism in Nigeria.
“The government makes a budget every year, check the last seven years, mostly N80 billion is made available as tourism budget and N60 billion is recurrent. We are saying that the government should re-profile the budget properly. Let us have more capital expenditure than recurrent expenditure to develop tourism,” he said.
Onung bemoaned the idea of combining parastatals under tourism and expressed concern that this would destroy the industry.
“We are begging the Federal Government to reject the idea to consolidate tourism parastatals. Instead of merging them, they should receive funding and reorganize their operational procedures so they can perform significantly better than they are currently able to.
“The devastating pandemic decimated our employment; one million jobs in the tourism industry were destroyed. To increase employment creation, more must be done. There are several factors we need to consider while rethinking tourism, the speaker added.