By G9ija

Akwa Ibom State tourism sector has vowed to reinforce COVID-19 protocols in the hospitality industry and other tourist centres to prevent another phase of the pandemic in the state.

Chairman, Akwa Ibom State Hotels Management and Tourism Board, Ini Akpabio, disclosed this yesterday while speaking with newsmen in Uyo, the state capital, stressing that the decision stemmed from the emerging waves of the pandemic abroad.x

“We will emphasise what we have done before. What we did before still sustained us. Wearing face masks, observing social distancing, hand washing and regular use of hand sanitisers are some the regular protocols being practised globally,” he said.

Akpabio explained that the board, being a regulating agency for the tourism industry in the state, would ensure that operators in the sector adhere strictly to COVID-19 safety measures to avoid a second wave of the pandemic now ravaging Western nations.

“We have to follow the Federal Government, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the state government’s COVID-19 guidelines. We are lucky in Nigeria because there has not been a high increase in the number of infections as in Europe, America and other countries,” he added.x

He expressed hope that Nigeria and Africa would not experience such rising incidents but would encourage strict adherence to the protocols just to sustain the standard.

He commended the NCDC and Akwa Ibom State government for ensuring that the disease never escalated to an alarming level in the country, saying: “We were able to take steps that prevented the spread of the virus. Even after we relaxed those steps, the virus never spread in an alarming manner, but we hope that America and the rest of the world recover quickly.”

Akpabio, therefore, urged operators of tourism-related businesses not to relax in adhering to the guidelines to contain the pandemic in the state.

“During my inspection of hotels to ensure compliance with the COVID-19 protocols, I observed that our guidelines, which we asked hotels to paste in their premises, were not displayed in the rooms, but were only placed on their notice boards.

“I observed that the hotels have relaxed in wearing face masks and social keeping distancing. They have been having events without observing social distancing and wearing face masks, which should not be,” he said.