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Adopt Expertise, Cleverness in Growing Hospitality Sector – Kruger


June 20, (THEWILL)- Cities have always been in the struggle for using attractive environment to woo foreign investment. And technological development has made this competition ever greater. So, in order to continue to create jobs and wages for people living in and around, Nigeria needs to be attractive inside and outside.

For Nigeria, the ability of its cities to attract investment will determine the success of national economy as a whole. But little is understood about how Nigerian states measure up with their international counterparts.

This report seeks to address some pending issues hampering hospitality growth across states, but this could be difficult, looking at a range of economic insensitivity from all levels of government.

Nevertheless, the inhibition on hospitality should be considered seriously because it really has negative effect on   nation’s ability to attract investment and create jobs as well.

For the General Manager, The Envoy Hotel Abuja, Dewald Kruger, there are a lot of challenges confronting Nigerian hospitality. One of such is the power issue. However, he advocates for professionalism and sophistication as two key ingredients needed to bring Nigerian hospitality at par with international standard. ‘‘I wished that we can become more professional and more sophisticated.”

Kruger, while speaking with travel journalists, said that “certain things are working against us and the biggest is our power supply. We would like to introduce and use more technologically advanced systems but it is just impossible to maintain.

‘‘So we tend to stay more with rugged installations and equipment that can stand the test of the demand of the environment. Another thing is good service and good service comes with friendliness. There are no excuses for good services. Be proud of yourself and of your services. Be soft on stuff but hard on substance.’’

Continued, he said he was not bothered that Nigeria still lacks the star rating system, saying that it comes with its own issues that may be difficult to contend with. ‘‘I am not too worried about that because that again will bring another issue and it needs to be funded. It can be influenced. I am happy that the market determines if you say you are good or not. What is the difference if I put a five star on my door here? I don’t think it is necessary because the market will determine it. So you don’t all have to be five star hotels but you can be the best four star hotels, the best three star hotels and make fantastic money. Just be a good honest six star hotel if that is your decision. But don’t try and over decorate it, or overdo it and, above all, there is also a market for that.’’

Kruger declared that he is “is satisfied living and working in Nigeria. Since stepping into the country in 2013, working with former Protea Westwood Hotel in Falomo, Ikoyi before moving to L’ Ola Hotel, Maryland, both in Lagos, and now The Envoy Hotel Abuja.”

While describing his journey so far in Nigeria as very satisfying both on the professional and personal levels, he noted: ‘It is quite satisfying in terms of business and also personally. I would not have stayed here as long if not for the staff. The guests are also very important and enjoyable and we have developed good friendship all the way. Some of them from Lagos even followed me here, which is very satisfying. The staff too, even though the environment is difficult, but makes it a pleasure to come to work. I think they have a different approach to their work, to guests and to instructions, which is humbly. You can only do this job with the people that you can trust, which is what I found here.”

According to him, among the three hotels, Protea Westwood Hotel was challenging and this is understandable, being his first hotel in Nigeria. ‘‘All three of them offered unique experiences and growth. Westwood as my first one out of South Africa was a challenge on its own. I have to get accustomed to the local environment, the local ways of treating your guests and staff and also Protea had a very good brand loyalty and brand instruction. It was very good and I enjoyed it.”

Stakeholders Unveil Plans in Advancing Lagos State Domestic Tourism

With the “Best of Lagos” Project, government of Lagos State has emphasised its commitment position the state into a major tourism destination in Africa after it engaged various stakeholders in the tourism sector including tour operators, hoteliers, tourism promoters, boat owners, ambassadors among others on workable strategy and synergy in a two-day Tourism working Summit held at Dover Hotel, in Ikeja on the, 15th and 16th of June.

One of the lead discussants was Ambassador Ikechi Uko, Organiser Akwaaba Africa Travel Market, who during his presentation highlighted the beauty of coastal state.

According to him, Lagos State is bigger than most countries in Africa with over 20 million residents running the sixtth biggest economy in Africa. It is surrounded by water, the ocean and the lagoon with beautiful beaches and waterfront, it has everything a tourist would want. It has the longest bridge over water in Africa, twice voted as having the coolest neighbourhood in the world, and also selected by Playboy magazine as the Most Authentic Party City in the world.

Speaking further, Amb. Ikechi Uko said Lagos Island, for instance, has the whole colonial history of modern Nigeria but nobody is promoting the fact that the amalgamation of Nigeria was presented to Nigerians in Lagos. “Ikot Abasi in Akwa Ibom and Zungeru in Niger State are fighting for the Amalgamation Houses but not Lagos. There should be daily trekking tours of the island identifying the houses of founding fathers like Herbert Macaulay, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and Sir Ajasa after visiting Freedom Park and the new Brazilian Musuem,” Uko said.

Similarly the other lead discussant Dr Adun Okupe, a Tourism Advisory Consultant, urged Lagos State government to train tour operators and tour guides who were the front liners in order to arouse and sustain the interest of potential tourists. Okupe stressed the need for Lagos State to upgrade the tourism sites to international standard for the advancement of the economy and to generate more revenue, just as she called on government to work on orienting and improving the people’s perspective to see Lagos as a tourist centre.

Also speaking was the Chairman, Lagos State House of Assembly Committee on Tourism, Arts and Culture, Hon. Fatai Oluwa, who said that the House of Assembly was in full support of the decision of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture to domesticate tourism activities in the state.

According to him, the House of Assembly as part of its demonstration of interest in revamping the tourism sites across the state recently embarked on visitation to all monument sites in the state with the intention of upgrading the sites to international standard.

The Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Phar. (Mrs.) Uzamat Akinbile-Yussuf, who set the agenda for discussion at the summit, urged the participants to seize the opportunity of the summit to build on the existing tourism products of the state.

According to her, the ministry had already ensured that structured plans were in place to develop existing tourism sites in the state to international standard, saying that involving of all key stakeholders in tourism activities is needed to bring the plans to fruition. She told them that the State Government has earmarked 100 Hectares of Land for the Lagos Film City to house Nollywood. This will come onboard in 2021. She used the Opportunity to introduce the 2021 Calendar of Events in Lagos.

Among those present during the summit were Lagos State House of Assembly Committee on Tourism, Arts and Culture, Hon. Fatai Oluwa; The Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture,  Mrs.) Uzamat Akinbile-Yussuf; Special Adviser to Lagos State Governor, Hon Solomon Bonu; Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mr. Tunji Saymour; Senior Advisor, Red Clay Advisory, Dr. Adun Okupe; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Princess Adenike Adedoyin-Ajayi; Amb. Ikechi Uko, Organiser Akwaaba Africa Travel Market. The event was anchored by Ambassador Nneka Isaac Moses of GOGE Africa.