5-star hotels now shutting down in Nigeria – Ben Ayade

Cross River State Governor Ben Ayade

Cross River State Governor, Ben Ayade, has appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to lift the ban on domestic flights as Nigerians grappled with the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on the economy.

Mr Ayade drew the Federal Government’s attention to the issue on Sunday while inspecting the asphalting of the dualised Odukpani-Calabar highway in the state.

He said the continued closure of Nigeria’s domestic airspace was impacting negatively on aviation, hospitality and tourism sectors of the economy.

He, however, warned that the adverse effects of another four weeks closure of the airspace could be catastrophic.

“The suspension of domestic flights has affected most hotels leading to their closure,” he said.

“It is so bad that most hotels including the 5-star hotels are shutting down because they cannot even sustain the cost of diesel for their generating sets and as that happens, they start laying off workers.

“So you have a lot of workers, young people who used to work in the hotels and tourism industry out of jobs. And the big question is, how long can this continue?” he asked.

Ayade said that rather than ban domestic flights, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) should devise strict guidelines to enable the airlines sector to continue to operate without escalating the number of COVID-19 cases in the country.

“We can still be safe while allowing the internals of Nigeria to run. We can do so by allowing the domestic airlines to start flying.

“As they fly, NCDC should spell out certain conditions like making sure aircrafts are properly disinfected, ensuring temperature tests are carried out before passengers get on board and of course, ensuring that all passengers wear proper masks.

“The airlines can have their own masks that they can give to passengers,” he said.