Dr Muda Yusuf, LCCI’s Director-General said this in a statement on Monday in Lagos.

He urged the government to focus on mainstreaming the sector into the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) to prevent shocks of the pandemic from crippling it.

Yusuf emphasised the need for specific intervention measures for the sector as done for others affected by the shocks of the pandemic.

He said that the hospitality business in Nigeria was one of the most dynamic, innovative and fast-growing sectors of the economy before the shock of the pandemic.

It is a labour intensive sector and therefore has employment elasticity.

“The shocks inflicted on the sector by the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated containment measures have been most devastating on the sector.

“There is also the collateral adverse impact on thousands of small businesses that are dependent on the hospitality business as suppliers or service providers.

“Poultry and fish farmers, for instance, have lamented the impact of the downturn of the hospitality business on their sales and profitability.

“The hospitality sector and restaurants are the biggest offtakers of the poultry and fish products in the economy,” he said.

According to him, the food and beverages sector experience similar fate.

“The breweries and bottling companies have suffered a major hit as a result of the stumbling fortunes in the hospitality business.

“The sector is one with diverse linkages across many sectors of the economy, which explains the secondary transmission of the shocks to many other segments of the economy.

“The value of the hospitality sector in Nigeria was estimated at N1.4 trillion as at 2019.

“Hundreds of thousands of jobs are currently at risk if an urgent rescue plan is not put in place for the sector, as this is not a sector that should be allowed to go under,” he said.

The director-general proposed that the measures outlined for the revival of the aviation sector and more should be replicated for the hospitality industry.

According to him, both sectors are closely related, complementary and interdependent.

“What currently exists in the ESP is only a passing mention of the sector with no prescribed specific measures and budget,” he said.

Yusuf recommended measures to engender sustainability of the sector to include provision of single digit soft loans, with long term repayment plan.

He also advocated grant support, including payroll support, to the hospitality industry and related services.

Others are creation of opportunities for restructuring of existing facilities with commercial banks and concessions on interest payments.

Yusuf called for deferred payment of taxes and filing dates and one-year waiver of Land Use Charge and Lagos State Signage and Advertisement Agency (LASAA) Advertisement Rates [Applicable to Lagos State].

“Also, we recommend one year waiver for hotel renewal fees and other state levies and fees for hotels and resorts, one-year waiver of Local Government fees and permits,” he said.

The LCCI chief said there should be a clear mandate to the Federal Ministry of Tourism and its state counterparts to ensure the realisation of the deliverables.

“It is in the interest of the economy for the hospitality industry to be supported by the federal and state governments to recover from the devastating shocks inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated containment measures,” he said.