By Taiye Olayemi
Mr Segun Runsewe, the Director-General, National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), has said that deep measures on COVID-19 testing and certification process were needed to support the tourism sector in 2021.
In a statement on Wednesday, in Lagos, Runsewe said that the reality of the new wave of the pandemic had created an additional burden for the tourism industry, such that the players do not know how to survive in 2021.
He said that inbound travels across the board and partial lockdown affecting outdoor recreation, hospitality businesses, are having an impact on jobs and would eventually have a devastating effect in the industry.
Runsewe said that there was a need to reassure the cultural tourism economy to curb depression and continued job losses for the industry that has been known to champion employment and rural development.
” We certainly welcome the news of vaccination to help curb the spread of the pandemic.
” We must give the Nigerian tourism and culture sector some form of protection and confidence to get hold of a strategic survival plan through faster COVID-19 testing response and certification.
” The industry must hold its breath in 2021 and show grit,” he said.
The NCAC DG said he believed that putting in place effective monitoring and compliance with COVID-19 protocols, supported by faster COVID-19 testing ecosystem and certification, could boost confidence in the troubled tourism economy.
He noted that it was necessary to strengthen the capacity of service providers, create more tourism jobs, as against predicted losses inspired by COVID-19, and expand existing pillars of national integration and love for our history and heritage.
” The fear of another strain of the pandemic is very alarming, but we must respond with a chain of confidence-building processes, carefully driven through one on one engagement with cultural tourism practitioners on creating additional domestic travels.
” It is important to empower the hospitality and creative sector to sustain jobs, provide services and with protocols of COVID-19 testing and certification process, to generate double-digit growth for the industry in 2021,” he said.
Runsewe also said that NCAC carried out strategic engagements during the year to curb the fear and anxiety of COVID-19 pandemic while commending the efforts of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, for creating an enabling environment for the cultural tourism sector to thrive.
He urged Nigerians not to stigmatise COVID-19 victims, reminding them that NCDC and the PTF consciously and deliberately embarked on an awareness campaign on COVID-19 to reduce community spread.
” We should not fear 2021 but must carefully navigate all the challenges likely to face us through a dedicated bank of faster COVID-19 testing response mechanism.
“We need to promote industry leadership to power the sector to growth, instead of doom in 2021,” he said.