The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has said ‘COVID-19 vaccine nationalism’ is hindering the efforts being made to restart the tourism sector, following the devastating blow it suffered as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Minister stated this in Birnin Kebbi, Kebbi State, on Monday in his address at the 44th Edition of the United Nations World Tourism Day 2021 celebration, with the theme “Tourism for Inclusive Growth.”
He said the tourism sector, which is people-driven, can only open up effectively and contribute to economic growth when the people are adequately protected from COVID-19, adding that ‘vaccine nationalism’ has heightened the inequality and inequity in the global vaccine distribution system.
“Today, rich countries are able to procure vaccines for their own citizens through direct agreement with pharmaceutical companies; while low and middle income countries are lagging, unable to act as speedily as rich countries in securing the quantity of vaccines they need or unable to afford to pay for any at all. Whereas some rich countries are already talking of third booster shots, many low and middle-income countries have not even given one shot to their citizens.
“Added to this is the restriction placed on the citizens from certain countries by the rich nations. These restrictions, made possible by the use of ‘vaccine passports’, as well as the low level of vaccination in the low and middle income countries due to ‘vaccine nationalism’ that has seen rich countries mop up available vaccines, are capable of thwarting the efforts to restart tourism,” Alhaji Mohammed said.
He therefore called in the rich countries of the world to retrace their steps and embrace a collective and equitable global strategy for COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing, procurement, and distribution, stressing that they must also stop ineffective nationalistic disposition in COVID-19 responses.
The Minister added that COVID-19 response should be science-driven, with experts in epidemiology, virology and the social sciences (not politicians) taking the lead in devising and implementing science-based strategies to reduce the risks that the pandemic poses to the most vulnerable across the globe and to reduce transmission of this novel virus.
“It is our collective responsibility to ensure that tourism remains a sector of hope, providing opportunities for empowerment and entrepreneurship for people and education. I enjoin all stakeholders to place inclusiveness at the centre of their strategies in order to develop a safe, unique and overwhelming experience for visitors,” he said.
In reference to the theme of the World Tourism Day 2021, Alhaji Mohammed said inclusive growth deals with policies that allow people from different groups; gender, ethnicity, religion and across sectors; agriculture, manufacturing, etc to contribute to and benefit from economic growth.
Dignitaries at the event include the Deputy Governor of Kebbi State, Col. Samaila Yombe (Rtd); Permanent Secretary Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Dr. Ifeoma Ayanwutaku, and management staff of the ministry; Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission, Balarabe Shehu Illelah, and the DG of National Commission for Museums and Monuments Abba Isa Tijani.
Others are the DG of Nigerian Institute for Cultural Orientation Mohammed Ado Yahuza and DG of National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism Nura Kangiwa; Executive Director, National Film and Video Censors Board Adebayo Thomas; DG of the Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation Folorunsho Coker; and General Manager, National Theatre, Sunday Ododo.