The Nigerian Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has said that the policy of vaccine nationalism and vaccine passports as champion by the developed economies has a huge tendency of affecting the full resumption of global tourism.
The Minister disclosed this on Monday in Kebbi State North West Nigeria during the World Tourism Day celebration 2021, with the theme ‘Tourism for Inclusive Growth’.
Mohammed said there was a challenge posed to restarting tourism globally by ”vaccine nationalism”, which has heightened the inequality and inequity in the global vaccine distribution system.
“It is therefore imperative for 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. They must also stop ineffective nationalistic disposition in COVID-19 responses.
“Today, rich countries are able to procure vaccines for their own citizens through direct agreements 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.”
He also raised an observation over the issue of restrictions which are 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’. The Minister said that this policy of vaccine nationalism has seen the rich ones mop up available vaccines, which is capable of thwarting the efforts to restart tourism.
The Minister stated that It is a 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”.
Furthermore, the Minister said the COVID-19 pandemic has re-emphasized the importance and necessity to develop and promote domestic and regional tourism that is inclusive and caters for the wellbeing of the community, while ensuring smooth cooperation and rewarding experiences for all stakeholders involved.
The COVID-19 pandemic had a colossal social and economic impact on the world, and both developed and developing economies were not spared. Marginalized groups and the most vulnerable have been hit hardest of all.
It is however envisioned that the restart of the sector will facilitate global recovery and growth that will be widely and fairly felt. Member States of the UNWTO are encouraged to focus on certain priorities such as partnerships with key stakeholders and international organizations, as well as engage in advocacy to promote the role of tourism.”
In his speech the Secretary General of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation Mr. Zurab Pololikashvili said the human desire to travel and explore is universal, which is why tourism must be open for everyone to enjoy.
Mr. Zurab’s speech which was read by Permanent Secretary Ministry of Information and Culture, Dr. Ifeoma Adaora further disclosed that the many social and economic benefits that tourism brings be available to everybody.
“World Tourism Day 2021 highlights the power of ‘Tourism for Inclusive Growth’. By celebrating this day, we state our commitment that, as tourism grows; the benefits that come will be felt at every level of our broad and diverse sector, from the biggest airline to the smallest family business.
“Today, we reaffirm our pledge that, as we move forward and work to build a more prosperous and peaceful world through tourism, we will not leave anyone behind.
“The pause in international travel caused by the pandemic has made clear the relevance of tourism to our societies.
“The economic and social impact has been felt far beyond the sector itself. And in many places, the most vulnerable members of society have been hit hardest of all.”
The essence of the annual celebration is to foster global awareness of the social, cultural, political and economic value of tourism and the contributions of the sector towards reaching the Sustainable Development Goals.
The event is also considered as a powerful advocacy tool and occasion to mobilize political will and resources, address global problems, celebrate and reinforce achievements at all levels and educate the public on issues of concern.