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‘How COVID-19 travel ban has affected our businesses’
By Kehinde Oluleye & Paul Ukpabio
The lockdown is easing off in many parts of Nigeria and life is gradually returning to normal. But with travel and gathering bans still in place, life is still far from normal for our celebrities.
Actors, artistes, comedians and OAPs are some of the most diverse investors and side hustlers that you are likely to come across.
Live shows are the biggest source of income for our showbiz superstars. From musicians to comedians to OAPs and comperes, nothing brings in quick money like the daily or weekly live shows, parties, weddings, birthdays, luncheons and other events that seem to run from January 1 to December 31 each year.
But with the ban on inter-state and foreign travels, the glitzy and rewarding life of travels and show business of the industry’s leading lints has come to a standstill.
Actors, actresses, musicians, comedians, OAPs, MCs, to mention but a few, are ‘roasting’ at home because of the restrictions on movement. Bookings and shows have equally been cancelled or put on hold till God knows when.
So, this week, some of our A-Listers relive how travel ban has affected their finances and other aspects of their lives.
Bob Manuel Udokwu: Actor, producer, & politician
“COVID-19 has affected the travel and tourism industry in a fundamental but negative way, because people have not been able to travel freely the way they used to and that includes me. We took for granted the travel and tourism industry but now, we see that things have indeed changed, courtesy of Covid-19.
“The last time I travelled was early March when I went to receive an award in Abuja and immediately I returned from that travel, the lockdown started and since then, I haven’t gone anywhere. It is a big problem and it also affects one’s personal income because the things we usually travel to do, are no longer there and in terms of international travel, I usually do that in the last quarter of the year, but I don’t see that happening this year any more. It is sad because I haven’t travelled out of the country since March and we are already in May. The airline industry is shut down worldwide and we are not sure when this thing will blow away; if it doesn’t early, the problem will keep multiplying”.
Chief Dupe Jemibewon: School proprietor, businesswoman
“This COVID-19 has killed the travel and tourism industry. We were even talking about it yesterday. People have lost their jobs. Can you imagine that in this generation that there could be a time like this that you cannot go to wherever you want to go to? We can’t travel out? Now, we must find a way of making our children to know our country, travel around within our country. We should start encouraging internal tourism.
Chief Dupe Jemibewon
“Yesterday, I was also talking to my sister who lives in England and the children were saying they miss me and could not imagine that a time like this will come that I would not be able to visit them. This COVID-19 has upset a lot of things because half of my family are outside this country. And even though you have your ticket in hand right now, you can’t move. This also is a lesson that one should never say something cannot be possible. That the world could stand still is a miracle; without a shot of a bullet or missile but just a virus and we are all immobilised- its unbelievable!
“I feel sorry for our travel and tourism industry practioners because I don’t know how and when they will be able to bounce back to life after all these. The only way you can make money in the aviation industry is when the planes are flying but right now, the skies have been shut down. It will take some time for the industry to return and it will take galvanising all energy for the government to bring it back to life.”
Chief Mrs. Zhikrah Aduke Akanbi: Travel consultant
Chief Mrs. Zhikrah Aduke Akanbi
“My industry, that is, travels and tourism, is the worst hit with COVID-19. Activities in the industry have practically shut down and we are just awaiting modality for the ‘new normal’ to enable us plan our next move”.
Bishop Bola Odeleke: Cleric
“I am supposed to be in the US by now. The ticket I bought was for May 5 because I usually buy my tickets in January and February, but before we knew it COVID-19 emerged. So here I am in Lagos, I had to cancel all the meetings over there. The people over there had spent money planning to receive me but God’s will must be done.
“It’s a time to reflect. Maybe God wants everybody to be quiet and review our lives. Of course we need money if we can look inward. I cannot blame the government. The part I like most about this COVID-19 is that it is not only affecting the blacks but also whites as well as whatever colour you may be. It has touched all the continents of the world. This is why it is a pandemic.
“I pity the people in travel business for example; I have been assured that I can still use the ticket I bought anytime I choose but no plane is moving at the moment except for essential services.”
Chief Kenny Martins: Politician, businessman
Chief Kenny Martins
“It is too early to start talking about tourism plans because the travel and tourism global outlook is still hazy. Right now, I cannot make any plans for my travels. It really doesn’t make sense in the face of air space closures, airline bankruptcy and mass sack in travel and tourism. Our government should look inward and identify ways of saving local companies to avoid a total crash of the industry. I miss the freedom to travel and it’s affecting all my businesses. I believe this is the same for most business people.”
Susan Akporiaye: President, National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies
“The impact of COVID-19 on the travel and tourism industry can only be likened to that of a tsunami, it is a total sweep. The impact on the industry and the travel agencies has been huge. I call it a tsunami-pandemic. Right now, a lot of our members stand the chance of not being able to come back. Their survival is bleak!
“We have about 2,000 members with a total of about 35,000 workers who are presently temporarily unemployed which may soon turn to permanent unemployment depending on whether we would be able to come back early or might just be hanging. Even when we are allowed to work, not all of us will be able to go back with our staff. The situation is horrendous.
“About my personal travels, I have been indoors. A lot of people tell me that they can’t wait for the lockdown to be over so they can go back to work but in my case, those people are lucky because for me there’s no going anywhere because the airports are shut both locally, regionally or internationally. So lockdown or no lockdown, I will still have to be at home for a long while and this is not going to be easy because one of my hobbies is travelling. I love travelling; so being at home for about three months has been really trying for me.”
“The pandemic has really affected us in the entertainment sector. As a producer and performer, I am used to having events and recording for clients. Everything is on hold right now.
“So no cash inflow from shows and productions. The only way we have been able to cope is from our savings and digital sales revenues, which have been exhausted already. I have always been working from home though, because I have a studio at home. So the isolation is more like part of my lifestyle.
“I am coping very well. But I feel the government really needs to help us because it’s already getting to the point where everyone can’t handle it anymore. If the pandemic lockdown continues like this in Nigeria, it might get worse”.
Favour Oma: Actress
“Well, I really do not want to lie; most of us have been home discovering our hidden talents and making money from them. Maybe as my name is God’s Favour, I don’t really feel stressed by anything and often times, it works for my favour. Sincerely the only way I feel bad about the COVID-19 lockdown is that it started while I was off my base, but what can I do but to quickly turn the place into a second home? At first it was hard, boring and lonely; you know how it feels staying off home, no friends, family or social life. I still can’t travel but I’m not complaining anymore. “Although it almost affected my birthday which was on May 16, 2020 because we can’t party, I decided to celebra te it at the orphanage home, which turned to a this birthday the best I ever had; all still worked for my favour (chuckles).
“As for business, as a movie & skits producer, I didn’t lose anything actually because we find ways of distributing movies and upload skits on youtube to still entertain people at home. As an actor, when we were not allowed to film, I do skits in the house that don’t have to involve more than a person or two; you see, the ministry moves. Even as my personal business was on hold then which wasn’t really easy, things moved afterall. But I terribly miss travelling.”
Lion Olatundun Omoshaye: Travel Consultant
“The negative socio-economic impact is gigantic. Cancelled tickets, no passengers and so on.
All these led to zero business, so no source of income generation.
“There is no personal or cooperate travels. I miss the personal interaction with clients. Airplane and some companies machine are grounded; so we will need a lot of servicing when lockdown is finally over.
Above all, we give glory to God for the grace of being alive and surviving in good health.
“Learning to appreciate God knowing all the business activities, chasing the shadows is vanity. We had time to rest, ruminate and get closer to God to appreciate His love and mercy over us.
“Now we know that trusting in God for forgiveness and loving our neighbors is essential.”
‘How COVID-19 travel ban has affected our businesses’