By MARY TITUS, Abuja –
The chairman of Bon Hotels International West Africa, Mr Otto Stehlik, has said the group will continue to be in the forefront of the efforts to ensure that Nigerians have the rights skills that will drive the nation’s tourism and hospitality sectors of the economy.
According to him, whatever challenges Nigeria is facing in terms of making tourism and hospitality a national revenue earner, will become a thing of the past, when basic issues that slows the economy are resolved.
Speaking in Lagos when the board and management of Bon Hotels International West Africa, in partnership with African Alliance Group, (AAG) hosted Corporate Nigeria in Lagos, Stehlik said the special dinner invitation was part of the group’s effort to ensure that Africans and Nigerians in particular have great competitive advantages against European and American in terms of managing world class hotel groups.
He said though Africa remains a challenging, interesting and exciting place to operate as a hotel business, that Bon Hotels International West Africa sees itself first place as a continental operator that will create unlimited opportunities for Africans in the industry.
Stehlik who is the founder of the famous Protea Hotel Group before selling it to Marriott and joining his son Guy Stehlik to found the Bon Hotel International Group said the group presently has 12 hotels in Nigeria with more hotels already in the pipeline.
He said it was for this reason that the group recently made a Nigerian, Mr Paul Umoh, the first African to be in charge of an international hotel group.
It would be recalled that Mr Paul Umoh moh, a veteran and ex Protea management staff was recently promoted to become the Executive Director in charge of Bon Hotels International West Africa Operations.
“I have concrete reason to believe that by early to mid-next year, we would have 20 hotels operating in Nigeria. So that will give us a beautiful network which will make us easily the number one operating hotel company in Nigeria”, Stehlik said.
He added that in terms of tourism and hospitality potential, that Nigeria was investment viable as a developing country with over 180 million people population.
“With an economy that is fortunately starting to grow again, just like in South Africa where we had a bit of a recession, Nigeria, in order to grow its full potential in the industrial and manufacturing side will need to expand its hotel base with considerations on important factors such as the kind of hotel and how it is being set up from the foundation”.
On his part, the Chairman of African Alliance Group, Mr Gregory Ozegbe, his company has worked together with the Bon Hotel group to successfully develop a protocol of documents that guides the processes and procedures of the hotel’s operations across the value chain.
The AAG Chairman said this initiative has created jobs and revenues for Nigerian companies, where these jobs would have been sourced out to foreign firms, adding that this efforts has engendered cost reduction which is positive for the company and the nation’s economy.
Speaking in the same vein, an Executive Director of the company, Mr Bernard Casser said though Nigeria’s tourism and hospitality industry especially hotels is in its infancy stage because, he has watched hotels develop in Nigeria in Nigeria in the last 18 years, that that the industry has grown tremendously.
According to Casser, “there is so much opportunities here and it’s nice to see a lot of stabilization within the three and four star markets and not necessarily the five star based on ego.”
He commended the decision of the group to make a Nigerian the top officer of the hotel chain in West Africa, saying from his experiences, that the country has the potential to become a power house of tourism and hospitality on the continent.
The new Executive Director, Mr Paul Umoh, has already pledged to uphold the the tradition that has made Bon Hotels International West Africa the leading hotel group on the continent.
He is there first African to appointed into that position, and is expected to drive the expansion of the brand on the continent.