The Federal Government has linked the slow restart of the tourism sector to the dearth of COVID-19 vaccines across the globe.
This was contained in a statement issued by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed on Monday in Birnin-Kebbi in his address to mark World Tourism Day.
Lai accused developed countries of “Vaccine Nationalism’’ — the hoarding of COVID-19 vaccines at the detriment of lesser developed countries — which has led to a decline in revenues from the tourism industry.
Ripples Nigeria gathered that the 2021 World Tourism Day with the theme “Tourism for Inclusive Growth’’ is hosted in Birnin-Kebbi by Kebbi State Government and the Ministry.
Mohammed said the colossal social and economic impacts of the pandemic on both developed and developing economies could be ameliorated with the restart of the tourism sector.
He said the restart of the tourism sector would facilitate global recovery and growth that would be widely and fairly felt.
The minister, however, frowned at a situation where vaccine nationalism heightened by inequality and inequity in the global vaccine distribution system was posing a challenge to restarting tourism globally.
“Today, rich countries are able to procure vaccines for their own citizens through direct agreements with pharmaceutical companies.
“On the other hand, 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 the rich ones mop up available vaccines, are capable of thwarting the efforts to restart tourism.
“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,’’ he said.