Dubai Reopens Doors To Tourists After Long Shutdown

A man sunbathes along the Marina beach near the Ain Dubai Ferris wheel in the Gulf emirate of Dubai on July 7, 2020. (Photo by Giuseppe CACACE / AFP)
A man sunbathes along the Marina beach near the Ain Dubai Ferris wheel in the Gulf emirate of Dubai on July 7, 2020. (Photo by Giuseppe CACACE / AFP)

 

 

With a “welcome” passport sticker and coronavirus tests on arrival, Dubai reopens its doors to international visitors Tuesday in the hope of reviving its tourism industry after a nearly four-month closure.

But businesses are mainly betting on those already living in the gleaming desert city to energise its ailing economy and serve as a test run before wary foreign holidaymakers return.

“A warm welcome to your second home,” says the sticker applied to passports at Dubai airport, where employees wear hazmat suits and vending machines offer personal protective equipment.

The reopening comes even as the number of COVID-19 cases in the United Arab Emirates climbs to 52,068 included 324 deaths, with millions of foreign workers living in cramped accommodation particularly hard hit.

Incoming tourists are required to present a negative test result taken within four days of the flight. If not, they can take the test on arrival, but must self-isolate until they receive the all-clear.

Tourism has long been the lifeline of the glitzy Gulf emirate, one of the seven sheikhdoms that make up the United Arab Emirates.

High season starts in October when the scorching heat of the Gulf summer starts to dissipate.

Dubai welcomed more than 16.7 million visitors last year, and before the pandemic crippled global travel, the aim had been to reach 20 million arrivals in 2020.

“We are ready to receive tourists while we take all necessary precautions,” said Talal Al-Shanqiti of Dubai’s General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in a video message tweeted on Sunday.

– Staycation, daycation –
With scant oil resources compared to its neighbours, Dubai has built the most diversified economy in the Gulf, boasting a reputation as a financial, commercial and tourism hub despite an economic downturn in recent years.

The city-state is known for its mega malls, high-end restaurants and five-star hotels and resorts.

But all have taken a severe hit during the coronavirus outbreak, and Dubai’s GDP in the first quarter of 2020 was down by 3.5 percent year-on-year.

Dubai-based airline Emirates, the largest in the Middle East, has been forced to slash its sprawling network and is believed to have laid off thousands of staff.

Before reopening to international tourists, authorities launched social media campaigns and deployed hundreds of social media “influencers” to tout Dubai’s attractions.

But as the hospitality business works out how to create an environment that follows strict hygiene rules but is still worth the hassle for potential foreign clients, hotels are offering Dubai residents “staycation” and “daycation” deals to offset the slump.

– ‘Plans have changed’ –
Restarting hospitality by “primarily targeting the domestic market is an important first step in our phased approach towards restoring normalcy in the tourism industry,” said Issam Kazim, CEO of the Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing.

And key to the effort are health and safety measures at hotels to “reassure guests and travellers that Dubai is one of the world’s safest destinations,” he said in a statement last month.

Boosting domestic tourism is also part of the strategy of the UAE’s other main destination, the oil-rich capital Abu Dhabi, which welcomed a record 11.35 million international visitors in 2019.

The UAE’s capital is home to top attractions including an F1 circuit and the Louvre Abu Dhabi museum, which in late June opened its doors to masked, gloved visitors after a 100-day closure.

But the emirate does not share Dubai’s enthusiasm about opening doors to foreign tourists just yet, although those with negative test results are now allowed to enter.

“Plans have changed and we are not expecting to have the same numbers of 2019 this year definitely. It would take another two to three years,” said Ali Al Shaiba, executive director of tourism and marketing for the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism.

“As of today, I can say domestic tourism is what is in our plan. We believe domestic tourism is key now and we don’t see us opening for international travellers very soon,” he told AFP on Monday.

 

 

-AFP

Eiffel Tower Reopens In Paris After 104-Day Virus Lockdown

People bathe in the Trocadero Fountain near the Eiffel Tower in Paris during a heatwave on June 28, 2019. The temperature in France on June 28 surpassed 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit) for the first time/AFP

 

 

The Eiffel Tower reopened on Thursday for the first time since France imposed its coronavirus lockdown in March, though tourists will not be allowed to the top of the Paris landmark until later this summer.

Journalists from around the world were on hand as about 50 visitors, mainly French, prepared to make the steep climb by stairs to the first two levels, as elevators will remain closed because of social distancing concerns.

Visitors to the city’s most famous monument won’t be able to take the lifts until July 1, to ensure a safe distance between people to limit infection risk.

The very top of the iconic monument will remain off-limits to the public for now.

The 10-tonne metal landmark will emerge from its longest closure since World War II in time for the summer season, but with limited visitor numbers at first, and mandatory face masks for all over the age of 11, said the Eiffel Tower website.

The first visitors will be allowed in from 10:00 am (0800 GMT), a symbolic moment as France begins to tentatively open up to tourism after the virus shutdown.

Eager tourists have been able to grab their tickets since June 18, when the online ticket office opened.

“To ensure that ascending and descending visitors do not meet in the stairs, the ascent will take place from the East pillar and descent by the West pillar,” said the operator, with a limited number of visitors per floor at a time.

The top-level will remain closed for now, “since the lifts taking visitors from second to the top floor are small. It might reopen during the summer.”

 

 

-AFP

FG Set To Diversify Economy Through Culture, Tourism

The Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed has restated the Federal Government’s commitment to diversifying the economy through massive investment in culture and tourism.

Mr Mohammed offered the assurance at the meeting of the National Council on Culture and Tourism held in Dutse, the Jigawa State capital.

Participants at the event re-echoed the need to develop more tourist sites in the country, in conformity with international standards.

This year’s conference which is the 9th edition, focuses on using tourism and culture as a panacea for Nigeria’s economy.

Oyo State Receives 7.2b Naira Paris Club Deduction Funds

Abiola Ajimobi, Oyo State, Paris Club The Oyo State Government has confirmed the receipt of 7.2 billion naira as its share of the Paris Club over-deduction funds.

The government said the feat was achieved after spirited efforts by the State Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi.

The government said that 60% of the funds collected has been added to the Federal Allocation to the state to pay salaries of workers for the months of August and September 2016.

The state’s Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Mr Toye Arulogun, made the disclosure on Wednesday during a media briefing.

Mr Arulogun explained that the funds did not come out fortuitously, but came out due to the doggedness, determination and tenacity of Governor Ajimobi in spite of the initial exclusion of Oyo State on the list of the beneficiaries.

He noted that the state government had announced in December 2016 and reiterated in early January 2017 that the state was excluded from the initial beneficiary states of Paris Club Over Deduction Funds.

The Commissioner added that the Governor had reassured the people of the state at different fora that he would work round the clock to ensure the state gets its share.

“The efforts of Governor Abiola Ajimobi have yielded fruitful results. We will all remember that Oyo State was initially excluded from the states that benefitted from the Paris Club over-deduction funds.

“The Federal Government claimed that the previous administration had already collected the state’s share.

“However, Governor Ajimobi was not at peace with the development and swung into action to ensure that the state was included on the list.

“The Governor therefore mandated the Ministry of Finance to reconcile accounts with the Federal Ministry of Finance, Abuja.

“The results of the reconciliation and the Governor’s spirited efforts led to the payment of 7.2 billion naira to Oyo State.

“We have used 60% of the funds received to pay salaries as promised by the Governor during the interfaith service of the Oyo State Government held on January 3, 2017.

“Oyo State appreciates the cooperation of the Minister and Federal Ministry of Finance officials who facilitated the payment that has brought some degree of succour to workers in the state and will enable government deliver some more projects as dividends of democracy,” Arulogun said.

Herdsmen, Farmers Clash: Oyo Govt. Constitutes Committees To Address Issue

Abiola Ajimobi, Farmers, Herdsmen, OyoThe Oyo State government has set up stakeholder committees at both state and local government levels to address the crisis of the Fulani herdsmen and farmers in the state.

The Special Adviser to Governor Abiola Ajimobi on Security, Mr Olusegun Abolarinwa, made the disclosure in Ibadan, the state’s capital in southwest Nigeria.

Mr Abolarinwa highlighted the activities of the state government to avert the incessant clashes between the two groups.

“The state government does not have any policy on grazing zone yet, as the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Agriculture is yet to make a pronouncement on nomadic rearing to be domesticated in all states.

“In the interim, the state government has taken proactive steps to constitute committees at both the state and local levels comprising security agencies, chairmen of local councils, farmers’ associations, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, Seriki Hausawa, community leaders and relevant stakeholders in the community,” the governor’s aide stated.

He disclosed further that Senator Ajimobi has directed his Special Adviser on Community Relations, and his Senior Special Assistant on Security to address the crisis erupting in the religion sector.

The governor also asked them to tackle the community related crises at the Ibarapa area of the state, with specific instructions to meet with the aggrieved sects of farmers and the Fulani herdsmen.

Mr Abolarinwa explained that the crisis began when farmers allegedly laced their farms with poison in a bid to retaliate on the herdsmen whose cows purportedly destroyed their farmlands.

He, however, urged the aggrieved parties not to take laws into their hands, reiterating that the government has put adequate measures in place to strengthen the security of the state.

The security adviser hinted that some of the measures include: joint security patrol, procurement of armoured personnel carriers for the Oyo State Police Command, procurement of Hilux vehicles for security agencies and rendering various forms of assistance to the security agencies in the state.

He urged the people of the state to be security conscious by constituting themselves as watchmen in their neighbourhood.

The appeal was contained in a statement issued on Friday by the Oyo State Commissioner of Information, Culture and Tourism, Mr Toye Arulogun.

Niger State Mourns As Ex-Governor Abdulkadir Kure Dies

Niger State Mourns As Ex-Governor Abdulkadir Kure DiesThe Niger State government has announced the death of the former governor of the State, Abdulkadir Kure.

He died after a brief illness in a hospital in Germany at the age of 61.

The Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Mr Jonathan Vatsa, in a statement, says state government has declared a 3-day state-wide mourning.

It further stated that all flags should be at half-mast throughout the state during the period of mourning.

According to the Commissioner, the State Governor, Abubakar Sani Bello, has also declared a work-free day on the day of the burial of the former governor to enable residents accord the departed leader a befitting burial.

The statement expressed that the government would miss the wise counsel of the former governor, who despite political differences never failed to offer meaningful advice to the government.

“The intervention of the former governor during the recent labour crisis in the state was not only legendary but showed him as an elder statesman, whose main concern was for the good, progress and unity of the state.

“Engineer Abdulkadir Abdullahi Kure remain a leader who out of office showed concern for the development of the state.

“His statesmanship saw him jettisoning party affiliation when he personally intervened in the recent labour crisis in the state,” the statement concluded.

Niger State Targets More Revenue With Gurara Waterfalls

gurara-waterfalls-in-niger-stateThe Niger State government is desperately in search of investors to partner with in developing the Gurara Waterfalls Site to a World class standard.

The plan was announced by the state’s Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Honourable Jonathan Vatsa, at the maiden edition of the Christmas Carnival; first of its kind, organised by the Niger State Government in partnership with the ministry of information, culture and tourism.

Over the years, none of the different administrations has been able to put Gurara Waterfalls, one of the country’s greatest tourist attraction, to an admirable condition to stand the image of the tour site, as such waterfalls had done all over Africa and the world in general.

At the Gurara site, the Commissioner attributed the delay in the facelift of the site to the rise in dollar exchange.

gurara-waterfalls
Niger State government believes Gurara Waterfalls could draw more tourists to State if well managed

He said, with the current rise in dollar against Naira, investors would spend more in the execution of the project.

Mr Vatsa prayed to God for a great and fast miracle before January 2017 on the exchange rate, believing it will help the state government in wooing more investors into the state, not only for the Gurara project, but for many more projects of the government.

He was confident that with the backing of the governor, the best is yet to be seen, as the government, according to him, is planning improvements and better programme in the coming year.

The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism was full of praise for the governor of the state, Dr. Abubakar Bello, for his continuous support to the Christian community.

Although the Christmas Carnival is linked to the celebration of the Christmas, a large number of the Muslim community turned out for the Carnival, a development that the Permanent Secretary said was a sign of the spirit of oneness.

The programme witnessed entertainment from the state cultural group – Gwape, the Gurara Traditional Group, the Boys Brigade band and the ECWA gospel band.

Guests were also treated to lots of food and drinks to their satisfaction.

Oyo Govt. Talks Tough Against Violence In Kudeti

ondo election, owo violenceThe Oyo State Government has condemned the activities of hoodlums who invaded the Kudeti in South East Local Government Area and Isale Asaka under South West Local Government Area of Ibadan.

It says it will use the full apparatus of government to deal with any individual who engages in violence that is inimical to the peace in the state.

The Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Mr Toye Arulogun, in Ibadan said that the government had directed relevant security agencies to deal with the hooligans.

According to him, such acts of thuggery and hooliganism would not be condoned in the state again.

The government appealed to residents of the affected areas to remain calm and consequently called on security agencies in the state to increase their presence in the areas and other areas too in order to forestall a recurrence of the ugly incidents.

“We want to assure our people that we value their well-being, lives and property and we will at all times live up to expectations to provide security for them,” the commissioner added.

Mr Arulogun said that the government would beef up security around the state during the festive period, stating that security, which is the foundation of development, would not be trivialised or taken lightly.

Informing reporters that some arrests have been made, the commissioner said investigations would be intensified to fish out disgruntled elements within the town and anywhere in the entire state.

Oyo State Introduces New Strategy In Secondary School Management

universityThe Oyo State government has announced the creation of a Schools’ Governing Board (SGB) that will provide management functions for each secondary school in the state to enable them meet performance targets.

The board was established after the state released the White Paper on the report of a Committee on Participatory Management of Schools.

A statement by the State Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Toye Arulogun, said the government released the white paper after weeks of careful and in-depth analysis of the report in line with international best practices on government policies.

He added that the recommendations therein would serve as the much needed strategic framework to improve quality and performance in the state’s education sector”.

The statement further revealed that the Oyo State government adopted most of the recommendations of the Committee but with variations either in nomenclature or scope.

The State government said that the SGB model would be in two categories with membership drawn from accredited representative of Parent-Teacher Association, accredited representative of Old Students’ Association, accredited non-partisan Community leader, the Head Boy/Head Girl of the school, the School Principal to serve as Secretary, the Local Inspector of Education (LIE), representative of Local Govt. Council/LCDA and identified philanthropists.

It says that with the SGB, various units, organs and departments in the management of education will need to be re-aligned to avoid ambiguity, overlapping functions and inefficiency.

The government further stated that the SGB membership/leadership and scope should be suitably determined by the Government and they shall not be entitled to any form of remuneration from the government.

In both categories of SGB, Government shall be responsible for payment of salaries of teaching and non-teaching staff, curriculum development and quality control, and each SGB is mandated to meet once a month in order to properly discharge its functions.

The white paper stated that functions of the SGB shall include improving the Quality of school programmes and efficiency of teachers thereby raising students’ achievement level, provision of adequate teaching and learning resources, full participation of stakeholders in management and effective management of schools among others.
The State government also resolved to expedite action on the implementation of the Education Trust Fund recently signed into Law in order to boost the revenue base of the State and to support the development of the education sector.

Part of the recommendations of the committee is that the government should be open to support from other sources, both local and international, for total or partial adoption of schools to support the development of education in the State. It was specified that the support should be in line with the educational policy with details and mode of participation specifically spelt out.

The Oyo State Government’s White Paper on Education further revealed ”the new categorisation of schools highlighting lower and upper limits in terms of students enrolment, teachers posting, and other resources, saying that schools will be categorised as Urban Schools with a population of 1000 and above, Semi-Urban Schools with between 250 – 999 students’ population and Rural Schools with a population of 60 – 249 taking into consideration the Universal Basic Education Commission standard, probable infrastructure, current enrolment and availability of teachers”.

On the discrepancies in the data submitted by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST), Teaching Service Commission (TESCOM), the government directed that all Agencies in the sector must be restructured in such a manner that would ensure effective communication and interaction between them and the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology emphasising the need for periodic verification exercise of personnel, students and infrastructure by the various agencies.

It also directed that each agency should gather, store and provide dependable data but the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology must be the repository and sole issuing authority of such.
While agreeing on the continued payment of 1,000 Naira levy by each parent per student, per term, the government directed that each school’s SGB retains the levy collected for infrastructural development.

The government also noted the observation of the committee that there had been gross neglect of Technical and Vocational Education in the educational system and recommended the structuring of Science and Technical Education in the State in such a way that there will be linkage between the existing Technical Colleges, the Polytechnics and the Universities of Technology.

The government believes that efforts should be put in place to introduce short-term in-service training for all Artisans to develop their 21st Century skills at well-equipped Technical and Vocational Colleges.

It recommended that the School’s Governing Board (SGB) should make efforts to resuscitate school sports and games and improve Information and Communication Technology (lCT) education in Oyo State in order to meet up with the global revolution in lCT. Other highlights include the enforcement of the registration of all Private Schools in accordance with the policy for establishing such schools.

Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State had on Tuesday, July 12, 2016, through the Deputy Governor, Otunba Moses Alake Adeyemo inaugurated a 19-member committee on Participatory Management of Schools in the State headed by the Vice-Chancellor of Ladoke Akintola University, Professor Adeniyi Gbadegesin.

The committee were asked to review the educational status of the State; the standard of education in the State Public Secondary Schools; generate, collate and analyse memoranda on the Participatory Management of the State Public Secondary Schools and embark on intensive consultations with relevant and interested stakeholders on the subject matter.

It was also asked to conduct a comparative analysis of existing and recommended and other result oriented models of participatory management of public secondary schools among others.

Niger State Govt. Urges FG To Repair Federal Roads

roads, Niger State,The Niger state government has called on the Federal Government to urgently revisit all dilapidated federal roads across the State, especially the Agaie, Katcha Baro road whose repair contract was re-awarded in 2015.

Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Mr Jonathan Vatsa, made the call after a tour of federal roads across the state.

He said that “the over 30km road which cost the Federal Government about N17.5 billion was expected to be completed by January 16, 2016 as the contract was awarded in January, 2015.

According to Vatsa “The road has been abandoned and neglected; we want the Federal Government to visit Niger state because presently, no federal road is motorable.

“We cannot allow further delay in putting this facility (Baro port) into use.

“The Government’s idea is to open up the economy of the north through the Port.”

The road, if completed, will be the gateway from Baro Inland Port and would open the economy of the north to other parts of the country.

The 17.5 billion Naira the Commissioner referred to was part of the sum of 470 billion Naira approved in December, 2014 by the Federal Executive Council, for different contracts for the construction and rehabilitation of 17 roads and bridges across the country.

The Indian firm handling the contract has, however, said that the government should be blamed for the halt in the construction, adding that if it was mobilised upfront with 30 percent, the project would have gone beyond 50 percent completion.

The site engineer of the construction company, GR Building and Construction Nigeria Ltd, Mohammed Kamil, while lamenting the paucity of funds, said “ever since we came to site, we have not been able to get the 30 percent mobilisation fee. If they (FG) had paid us up to 30 percent, we would have constructed bridges and gone very far with work.

“Funding is our major problem, we have been here since last year, what they gave us is nothing to write home about. When we get money, we will finish the job. Complete mobilisation fee has not been made”.

He also lamented the deplorable state of the roads saying that “our trucks find it difficult now to bring construction rocks from our quarry sites before Lambata along the Suleja-Minna road because there are no good roads in Niger state anymore and there are no rocks nearby.”

The traditional head and Sheshi of Katcha, Alhaji Baba Adamu Umaru, also called on the Federal Government to, as a matter of urgency, hasten the construction of Agaie-Katcha-Baro road because of its economic importance.

“We are begging the Federal Government, we are suffering.

“Bring this road back alive. I remember during the time of Nigeria’s founding fathers, produce like cotton, groundnut and cattle skin were transported from Kano to Baro port and thereby exported overseas and we enjoyed this road.

“The Federal Government needs to act fast because the road has become a death trap.

“The nearest hospital to us is in Agaie and we have lost so many persons who were sick because before they were rushed to the hospital they died. To transport pregnant women who are about to deliver is very devastating because of the bad road”.

Economic Recession: Ooni Of Ife Asks FG To Invest In Culture, Tourism

economic recession, ooni of ife, cultue, tourismaThe Ooni of Ile-Ife has called on the Federal Government to intensify investments in culture and tourism, saying the sector is capable of bailing the country out of economic recession.

The Ooni, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, also advised the government to promote Nigeria’s culture, as a unifying force for the people within and in the diaspora.

Ooni Ogunwusi made the request at the unveiling of the Olojo Festival logo, which marked the beginning of the 2016 Olojo Festival, held at the the Ile-Oodua Palace on Friday.

Oba Ogunwusi while launching the logo said: “What we are doing is indeed a new one. We have improved the branding and we want to show the landmark uniqueness of Ile-Ife as a tourist centre.

“Both the government and private entrepreneurs should begin to use tourism for unity and economic development. Tourism is about movement. It is like a mandate that draws people from every part of the world”.Olojo

Oba Ogunwusi said embracing culture and tourism would bail Nigeria out of recession, describing it as a lasting solution to the current economic challenges.

The Ooni also mentioned that the sector was capable of making Osun State one of the richest states in Nigeria.

‎While describing Olojo as one festival with world class recognition, he emphasised the fact that ‘the festival draws all sons and daughters from across the world’ and that it would be a good opportunity to reinforce the notion of Ife, as a foremost cultural centre and sensitise them on the need to tap into tourism and culture.

Tourism ‘Money-spinner’

The Director General of the Office of Economic Development and Partnerships (OEDP), Dr. Charles Akinola, who represented the Governor of Osun State, Rauf Aregbesola, said that entrepreneurs involvement was necessary for cultural renaissance and socio-economic development.

Explaining further, he pointed out that Ile-Ife had no less than 12 tourist centres of international standards and also made reference to some other countries who have generated revenue ranging from $20.2 billion to $177.2 billion.

He stated that the government already had a tourism master-plan and had been developing it within the possible financial circumstances.

“When these are developed and well marketed, they will generate jobs in arts and craft; tour guides, transportation services in airlines and taxicabs and hospitality services,” he stated.

Dr Akinola called on entrepreneurs and those interested to partner with the government in order for the nation to benefit from the tourism ‘money-spinner’.

Stressing the importance of this partnership, he explained that culture separates one human group from another.

“Culture is the capsule that houses the economic system, science and technology, behavioural pattern, beliefs and religion of a people.”

He further expressed concern that Nigeria was not tapping into the economic aspect of culture, saying: “We can build a thriving economy around our culture and monuments”.

Niger Govt. Sets Up Committee To Investigate Military Invasion

Sani Bello, Niger State, MilitaryA three-man committee has been constituted by the Security Council headed by the Secretary to the Niger State Government (SSG) to look into the military invasion of some communities in Bosso Local Government Area of the state.

This comes after the military in Niger State invaded Lunko, Kopa and environ villages in Bosso Local Government Area of the state at about 1:00am local time on Thursday.

The Government has requested for feedback on the incident within 24 hours.

According to a statement by the State Commissioner of Information, Culture and Tourism, Mr Jonathan Vatsa, the government, after an emergency State Security Council meeting on Friday, directed an extensive investigation into the remote and immediate cause(s) of the unfortunate incident, with the aim of having a permanent solution and forestalling future occurrence of such act.

The council also directed that residents of the affected villages, community leaders, party chieftains, religious leaders and political office holders in the area should embrace peace and assist the committee by proffering suggestions that would bring lasting solution and guarantee an enduring peace in the area and the state at large.

The council, while commiserating with the families of those who lost their lives, appealed to the military to ensure strict adherence to rules of engagement while assuring them of government’s resolve to recover the missing arms during the unfortunate incident.

As normalcy returns to the affected area, the council appealed to members of the public to go after their lawful duties, avoid engaging in any act capable of breaching peace of the state and report any suspicious person or movement to appropriate authorities.

The armed soldiers drawn from the 31 Artillery Brigade in Minna and the Air Force base in Bosso, allegedly stormed the villages in a brutal commando style, waking the sleeping villagers, causing distress and inflicting pains on them.