The Executive Director, Business Banking Division, Access Bank Plc, Mr. Obeahon Ohiwerei said yesterday that the board of directors of the bank had approved a N3 billion facility which would be accessed by travel agencies.
Speaking in Abuja at a breakfast session for travel agencies and operators in the hospitality sector, he said the bank was ready to collaborate with players in the sectors to aid their growth by providing small business customers with innovative incentives that are designed to enhance business efficiency.
He also said the bank was ready to provide financial solution to the needs of customers and support entrepreneurs in growing their businesses by helping them to have easy access to personal loans, asset financing and car leasing opportunities and draw significant partnership benefit from the bank.
Ohiwerei also disclosed the bank had grown its deposit base to about N1.7 trillion, noting it was prepared to support selected potential growth sectors of the economy.
He said: “For any economic to grow, the SMEs must be vibrant and I don’t think any bank has deliberatively gone to that area to help develop it. So we, as a bank, given our success in the wholesales area and all that, are now ready to come into the SME space.”
He said the bank was ready to play in 11 business segments including focus on women-run enterprises. He said the bank would embark on massive capacity development for operations in the sectors to enhance their chances of accessing the fund.
Also speaking at the occasion, the Abuja Zonal Head, Business Banking, Mrs. Sandra Okoli, in her presentation titled: “Growth Opportunities in the Travel Agency/Hospitality Sector,” said
following the federal government’s move to diversify the economy from oil, tourism had become a major source of economic growth, employment, earnings and foreign exchange for the country.
She said the annual export revenue generated was in excess of $224 million (about N35 billion) while the total annual revenue generated was about $520 million (N83 billion), noting that tourism contributed over five percent to the nation's Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Okoli said tourism had become the largest most diverse and one of the most important industries of the world with over one billion tourists international activities yearly.
Justifying the bank’s interest in the sector, she said: "It has a direct impact on social, cultural, educational and economic sectors, generates foreign revenue and financial returns on investment and contributes over 30 per cent of global commercial services.
“It creates employment and serves as a mechanism for protecting natural environments, preserve monuments and stimulate the practice of local cultures, folklores, traditions, arts and crafts and cuisine.”