How Tourism, Creative Industry Can Access N1bn Palliatives – Commissioner

by Olamilekan Okeowo

Following the announcement of a N1 billion seed capital for investment in Tourism, Arts, and Culture in Lagos State by the state Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the state’s Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mrs Uzamat AkinbiIe-Yusuf has clarified the grey areas and reeled out the modalities to accessing the facility.

Akinbile-Yusuf gave this insight while giving highlights on the pronouncement made by the Governor in consonance with the recommendations submitted by the Lagos State COVID-19 Pandemic Review Committee constituted by the State Government to critically assess and review the negative impacts on the creative sector in the state.

The commissioner said being the Ministry that regulates activities in the Tourism, hospitality, and the entertainment sector, it becomes imperative to provide further insights into the pronouncements of Governor Sanwoolu especially as it affects stakeholders in the Tourism and creative sector.

“It is my pleasure and honor to inform Lagosians that Mr. Governor has graciously approved the release of N1 billion as seed capital for investment in tourism to drive the growth of hospitality, tourism, and entertainment businesses.”

This commitment from the governor, she noted, was aimed at providing key operators in tourism business with soft loans to boost their capacity in driving growth and also position tourism business as a new frontier for job creation and economic prosperity in the post-Coronavirus era.

Explaining further, the Commissioner noted that the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, and Culture would collaborate with the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund, LSETF, to administer the single-digit loan to practitioners that meet the criteria that would be set by the Ministry and LSETF.

Akinbile-Yusuf also highlighted other palliatives and efforts by the State Government that will guarantee quick recovery of the tourism sector to include 50% rebate for license and renewal fees payable to the Ministry by all hospitality, tourism and entertainment establishments across the State.

“The Ministry has established a platform to commence a working relationship with the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, for access to COVID – 19 Tourism sector fund, a Creative Financial Initiative Fund, to make the fund available to practitioners in the industry in Lagos State.

“On our part, our Ministry in conjunction with the Ministry of Justice is considering the establishment of Tourism Endowment Fund aimed at improving the tourism and entertainment sector in Lagos State. As contained in the submission made to Governor Sanwoolu by the Palliative Committee in respect of capacity-building, the Governor has approved training for practitioners in the creative industry through the Lagos Creative Academy to be put in place by the Ministry, “she said.

The Commissioner also reminded practitioners in the hospitality and entertainment industry that the window of opportunity to register their establishments with the Ministry is still open while stressing that these palliatives can only be accessed by registered practitioners as recalcitrant facilities risk being shut down by the government.

She appreciated the State Governor for increasing the number of social gatherings to a maximum of 50 persons, this, she said signals a gradual recovery of activities in the entertainment and creative sector.

The Commissioner, however, pleaded with the practitioners not to abuse the privilege or misconstrue this additional easing of lockdown as a means to open up, noting that night clubs and beaches remain closed until further directive from the State Governor.

On her part, the Chairperson of the Lagos State COVID–19 Pandemic Review Committee, Mrs. Joke Silva, acknowledged the passion of the Governor to ensure that the tourism and entertainment industry recovers within the shortest time possible.

Silva also appealed to practitioners in the Tourism and Entertainment industry that N1 billion approved as seed capital for investment in Tourism, Arts, and Culture by the Lagos State Governor would be made available to the most vulnerable practitioners to ensure that they are not sent out of business permanently.

“As a matter of fact, the Governor has actually approved all that we recommended because we proposed the sum of N2bn in all for our members. What the Governor did was to approve N1bn in the form of cash while the other N1bn was approved in form of waivers.

“We are aware of the fact that the State government has not also generated revenue as proposed for the year 2020 because of inactivity of some of the mainstream sectors occasioned by the COVID 19 Pandemic,“ she said.

She commended the State Government for the intent to establish a Tourism Endowment Fund, adding that the initiative will put the practitioners in Lagos State at par with their contemporaries across the globe.

Recall that in the wake of the COVID 19 pandemic, the Lagos State Government set up a COVID 19 Pandemic Review Committee to critically assess and review the negative impacts of the pandemic on the tourism and the Creative Sector in the State with a mission to provide succor to practitioners. The Committee was headed by veteran Nollywood Actress, Joke Silva.

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