By Peter Egwutu
Sterling Bank Plc, has pledged a N10 billion facility for the purposes of revamping domestic tourism in the country post COVID-19.
Mr. Abubakar Suleiman, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Bank, made the commitment while addressing participants at a tourism webinar organised by the Nigerian Tourism Corporation (NTDC) with the theme: Nigerian Domestic Tourism: Re-Imagined.
Suleiman who spoke on the topic: “Investment for the Tourism Sector to Enhance Domestic Tourism,” noted that, “Sterling Bank has funding capacity and is ready to put N10 billion behind domestic tourism” if the right stakeholders are available in the industry.
He enjoined stakeholders in the industry to collaborate rather than compete, saying stakeholders need to come together to offer worthwhile experience in different aspects of the industry.
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Mr Suleiman encouraged operators in the domestic tourism industry to sit down with their bankers to build the experience together, adding that the sector is a billion dollar worthy business.
He stressed the need to have extensive discussion with stakeholders in the tourism sector in order to scale up and advised the stakeholders to stop approaching the government as individuals but as a team so they can push for policy initiatives that would be beneficial to the industry.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who declared the virtual meeting open, noted that tourism assets and other social imprints in the country are huge just as tourism remains the largest employer of labour.
The Minister who was represented by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Culture, Mrs. Isu Gekpe, said the restriction of the tourism sector in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic has affected the most vulnerable groups in the industry.
She observed that the promotion of tourism is the first step to re-starting the economy post COVID-19 and encouraged stakeholders to promote existing tourism assets in the country while a robust legal framework is being worked out.
Also speaking, Director-General of NTDC, Mr. Folorunsho Coker expressed the hope that the commission would be able to exploit opportunities in the hospitality industry through packages, affordability of airlines and access to tourism destinations.