COVID-19: Ex-NANTA VC urges FG to review PCR test rules, says policy ‘making tourism business moribund’

By Ebunoluwa Sessou

Former Vice Chairman of National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies, NANTA, Otunba Segun Adewale has urged the Federal Government to review the pre-arrival PCR test rules in order to allow tourism business to be revived in Nigeria.

Adewale who described the pre-arrival PCR test charged $200 by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), as a way of extorting Nigerians maintained if the policy is not revisited, it might hamper smooth operations of travel and tourism business in Nigeria.

According to him, the policy is inimical to Nigeria’s economy and it is a fraudulent development in that no other country is collecting money upon arrival for post two days tests.

NCDC policy states that “Upon arrival in Nigeria, Fully vaccinated travellers are required to conduct a COVID-19 PCR test on day 2 of arrival. Unvaccinated and partially vaccinated passengers are required to observe a mandatory 7-day self-isolation in addition to a COVID-19 PCR test on days 2 and 7 post-arrival. Passengers who do not adhere to the travel protocol will face the penalty as stipulated by the PSC-COVID-19.

Adewale who is also the CEO of Aeroland Travels Limited, in a chat with Vanguard disclosed that while worst-hit countries in the world are winding down and relaxing their stiff measures to give room for an economic rebound, Nigeria through the NCDC managed by the Presidential Taskforce (PTF) on COVID-19 still maintains a hard stance, bringing untold hardship to the travel and tourism industry.

“For travellers arriving Nigeria, Covid-19 PCR test is compulsory within 48 hours irrespective of your vaccination status. This should be reviewed. If you are vaccinated, there is no need for another compulsory test.

 “A family of five needs hundreds of naira to do the test upon arrival. At the end of the day, upon payment of the $200 once the QOR code is generated, the health of the person involved is of less concern to them.

“It is not helpful to the economy and the industries if travellers have to pay 200 dollars in advance into the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) account for another test on arrival into the country.

“This is the highest charge anywhere in the world. These charges are discouraging travellers into Nigeria and indirectly affect our GDP.

“This is adversely affecting our GDP growth as the Forex we could have gained through tourism is stifled.

“It is imperative that this policy is reviewed because businesses are moribund, due to the exorbitant PCR test charge. People’s livelihoods have been destroyed and these countries are now bringing back their businesses, reviving the travels, aviation, tourism, hotels and hospitality industries.

“So, if we can copy the West and America as regards Covid-19 guidelines and policies, why are we not copying them with financial implications as related to Covid-19 PCR test,” he said.

Adewale, who berated the multiple compulsory PCR tests and charges imposed on travelers into the country, said such was enough to discourage tourism and other connected industries.

“Before Nigerians could not enter Europe except for the PCR test but now they are relaxing the rules. In fact, they are not even asking travelers to do any more to enter their countries once they are vaccinated” he stated.

According to him, in England, the United Arab Emirates and most countries in Europe, if anyone is vaccinated, the PCR test was not needed again to come into those countries.

He said that the Covid-19 test on arrival in some of these countries was free, adding that the development had increased the number of people coming into them thereby improving their economy.

Adewale added: “As things are getting better and countries are relaxing rules, we need to do the same in Nigeria for the sake of our economy; we should not make the rules stiffer.

 “Since we have copied all the guidelines and health policies from Europe and America on the COVID-19 pandemic safety measures, even the quarantine here, now that they have relaxed the rules, it is pertinent that Nigeria also follows suit.

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