Group general manager of Fahrenheit Hospitality Limited (FHL), Mrs Ada Nwobu, has commended the Minister of State, Aviation, Hadi Sirika, stressing that the proposed Nigeria Air billed to commence full operations in December this year, would boost the hospitality and tourism sector in the country.
Nwobu, who spoke with LEADERSHIP Weekend in Lagos, yesterday, observed that there is a serious link between airline operations and the survival of hospitality and tourism of any country. The hotel management expert, therefore, stated that the sector would bounce back and become buoyant, particularly when the recently launched national carrier resumes operations.
According to her, the absence of national carrier could also limit people from coming into the country as those who want to enter or go out of the country would require flexible and well scheduled flight arrangements.
She said, “national carriers have some impacts on their countries. It does in the sense that it promotes tourism. The absence of national carrier could also limit people from coming into the country. For example, if you want to make a trip to Nigeria or even out of Nigeria and at the end of the day, you find your flight itinerary looking very clumsy; you may decide not to bother. National carriers promote tourism to a large extent because they bring the guests in.
“If they don’t bring the guests in, we may not see them and we will be constrained to work with only what we have locally. In most cases, we have people arriving and we have platforms in the industry where we interact with the guests. We work hand in hand with the travel agents, and they are in a position to tell us that they are expecting 100, 50 or 20 guests. We can’t do without them and they cannot do without us. We synergise to give a satisfactory service to the guests”, she added.
Stating that the national carrier project is long overdue, Nwobu assured that, “It will bring positive impact to the industry because we are a developed country. I don’t consider Nigeria a developing country. We are already developed but we are not utilising our resources well enough. We should be one of the first African countries to have had a national carrier. I am happy to hear that it is being projected to commence in December. I hope it actually become realistic. It is very important.”
Nwobu also advised the government to invest more in the hospitality and tourism sector as that is the only way the sector could generate reasonable revenue. According to her, if operators in Nigeria are given all the necessary resources by the government, to expand their businesses and the industry, they should be able to do much more.
She however, opined that most European countries and the Arab countries are doing very well simply because they get the right supports from their various governments. “Even some African countries like South Africa, Nairobi, Kenya and Gambia are strong in hospitality. In Nigeria, there is a major vacuum to fill. If the government fills that vacuum regarding funds, we would do better.
“Again, a number of hospitality and recreational centres have been abandoned. These are supposed to be business-generating establishments but they are not running well because the government doesn’t want to put so much attention there. I think that if government can put in funds, operators would be able to generate reasonable revenue at the end of the day”, she said.
She listed, lack of power, poor infrastructure, insecurity, multiple taxation and others as major challenges hospitality and tourism operators face in the country. On government policies, she said, “Government policies affect us badly. Let’s take a look at the consumption tax for instance. We pay five per cent of the federal government VAT and another five per cent consumption tax for Lagos State government.
“There is another 10 per cent, which we need to charge the guests for service fee; that is like 20 per cent added to a basic rate. We have situations whereby guests tell us that they are not happy about these bills and that it is outrageous. Another thing is that we also need to remit these bills back to the government. But we find a way also to improvise, to make it easy as service providers to our guests. What we do is that in most cases, we factor in all the bills as one. So, if I tell you that my plate of food is N7, 000; I have added my service fee and all we do internally is to remit to the government”.
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