Father of Tourism in Nigeria, Chief Mike Amachree, has told the industry practitioners and stakeholders to persevere during this hard period the industry is currently facing as a result of corona virus (COVID 19).

He said it was important for the practitioners to persevere as the pandemic would soon be over.

Chief Amachree made the call in a press release. He said: “The travel industry is passing through a challenging and very difficult time globally. The industry is hardest hit by COVID 19 pandemic that has made many countries shut down their borders and the airlines to stop flying.

“We have also seen many hotels closing or partially closing down due to the effect of the pandemic. When airlines are not flying into destinations, it is difficult for top branded hotels to maintain profitable occupancy rate and to stay afloat. Even locally, when there is a restriction in movement, it affects the small hotels negatively.

“We have also seen cinema houses, eateries, museums and parks empty. These are all challenges to the sector. In a recent press conference by the ex-President of the National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies (NANTA), Mr. Bankole Bernard, he said the travel agencies had lost more than 180 billion naira in business as a result of this pandemic. It is serious but as industry practitioners, we must not give up hope on the ability of tourism to rebound from major global setbacks. We saw this happen at a lower level with SARS, Ebola and others, we are equally very optimistic that the tourism industry will overcome this set back.”

Amachree equally said at this period, the industry would need a lot of support from government to get back on its feet: “According to UNWTO experts, the estimate loss of the industry as a result of COVID 19 globally may be up to one trillion Dollars. We have seen big hotels like Eko Hotels and Suites that employ thousands of people partially closed because of the pandemic; others may not be far from doing that if the trend continues. You can then imagine the job loss that this will trigger. It is really not easy but I encourage travel practitioners and stakeholders to remain strong still as this will equally pass.”

Amachree used the opportunity to praise the efforts of the leadership of the Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN) by taking time to go round some tourism establishments to see how they are coping.