… Calls on Practitioners to Access N1 Billion Soft Loan  

In its determination to reposition tourism beyond the new normal in view of the ravaging effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Lagos State Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture has assured stakeholders of its maximum support in building sustainable growth for the industry.

The Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mrs. Uzamat Akinbile-Yussuf, gave the assurance at a webinar session with stakeholders recently in Lagos on the N1billion Soft Loan for Tourism and Entertainment Sector in the State.

Akinbile-Yussuf expressed displeasure over the inability of stakeholders to fulfill requirements for disbursement the COVID-19 palliative loan approved by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to alleviate the effect of the pandemic on their businesses.

She stated that the main objective of the meeting was to get feedback from the stakeholders on the reasons for the perceived apathy towards applying for the loan which was meant to help them stay in business.

She, however, assured the stakeholders of the Ministry’s cooperation and support to grow their businesses, adding that the present administration does not intend to choke stakeholders with taxes, but to render all necessary support to them.

The Commissioner explained that the major prerequisite for stakeholders to access the loan was to be registered with the Ministry with an up-to-date payment of their annual dues.

Her words: “I appreciate the stakeholders for their unflinching support even as COVID-19 ravages the industry; this meeting is to strengthen our relationship with you all. We observed that few stakeholders have indicated an interest in the tourism recovery loan of N1billion released for the tourism and entertainment industry three months ago”.

“We hereby call on stakeholders to do the needful to access the loan. This has never been done in the history of the State, as such, it should be appreciated. We are not ready to choke you with taxes, but support you to grow”, she said.

Akinbile-Yussuf noted that the Ministry would improve on its publicity of the loan and the requirements for accessing it and informed the stakeholders of the forthcoming hybrid tourism summit slated for March 25, 2021, urging them to avail themselves the opportunity to rub minds with other stakeholders.

Mr. Emmanuel Lordsgreat, Founder, Tourism Business Success International, on his part, said that the stakeholders were more in need of grants, rather than a loan, as the industry had been affected badly, leaving most stakeholders indebted.

“Considering the fact that most businesses were closed down during the pandemic, it has made most stakeholders indebted. So, what we are looking for is something to cushion the effect of the pandemic, not to incur more debt. I will suggest that the Ministry consider giving grants to stakeholders rather than loans”, he said.

Also speaking, Omolara Adelusi, President, Venue Owners Association of Nigeria, urged the Ministry to reduce the registration fee and annual levies allotted to each stakeholder, which had been challenging for the association members to comply with.