Category Archives: News

Nigeria Tourism Private Sector Body Elects New Executive

The umbrella body for Nigeria’s private sector tourism business practitioners, the Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria [FTAN] has elected new executives to pilot the affairs of the body for the next two years.

The event held in Abuja last week, saw Rabo Saleh Karim of the National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies [NANTA], emerge as the President. Other executive members elected include Nkereuwem Onung as the first  National Deputy President; Abiodun Odusanwo, second National Deputy President, Ayo Olumoko Vice President, South West; Nura Kangiwa, Vice President, North East; Ngozika Ngoka, Vice President South East; Badaki Aliyu, Vice President , FCT,  Eugene Nwanzi, Vice President South South and John A. Adzer, Vice President, North Central

Also elected are, Ime Udo, Membership Secretary [1]; John-Likita M. Best; [2]; Emeka Anokwuru, Membership Secretary(3); Okorie Uguru, First Publicity Secretary and Joseph Karim, Publicity Secretary [2].

In his goodwill message, the Chairman, FTAN’s Board of Trustee, Samuel Alabi said the era of the Federal Government agency controlling or co-ordinating tourism has gone for good.

He said, that excerpt there is a constitutional amendment to include tourism under the exclusive or concurrent list  of the 1999 Constitution as amended, it will difficult for a federal agency to fully control tourism in the whole country.

Alabi stated further: “The fact that the Federal Attorney General is yet to apply section 215 of the 1999 Constitution of the heavily mutilated NTDC Act is still a surprise to me.”

The Chairman Board of Trustees of FTAN also commented on controversial NIHOTOUR bill: “During my time as the President of FTAN, I approached NIHOTOUR to provide an enabling environment for private sector driven certification body like CITN, ICAN, IPMN, NIPRP.

In fact, a draft bill was prepared but thereafter nothing was heard from NIHOTOUR end. I was shocked when I saw that the certification bill has been incorporated into the heavily castigated NIHOTOUR bill. I urge FTAN to play a leading role in this regard.”

On his part, the immediate past President of FTAN, Tomi Akingbogun, in his valedictory speech, said the association has expanded its membership base, and also noted some associations that had left the body before, like National Association of Tour Operators [NATOP], have returned to the fold.

Tomi said FTAN during his tenure, worked closely with the public sector and has also created programme to promote investment in tourism; the annual NTIFE.

Rabo Saleh Karim, in his acceptance speech, called for peace and greater unity among member associations.

He said: “Going forward, we plead to every one of us to bury the hatchet and pro-actively lend your supporting hands, even as you constructively criticize us”.

“We are not under any illusion of the enormous responsibilities you reposed on us here.

Membership of FTAN exco is by no means a ‘time for tea break’ or ‘a walk in the park’.  We shall relentlessly work to ensure that government agencies and the broader private industries in Nigeria become actively aware of FTAN’s activities and programmes.

More so, we would engage the present government’s ‘ease of doing business in Nigeria’ drive to fully integrate templates that facilitate domestic and inbound tourism sectors in Nigeria.”

AHIF, Africa’s Must-Attend Hotel Conference, Reveals Agenda

The influential Africa Hotel Investment Forum [AHIF] has unveiled the agenda for its 2017 conference, packed with contributions from industry leaders, that confirms its reputation as the leading event of its kind for investors and developers.

The seventh edition of AHIF takes place in Kigali, October 10 – 12, and, like last year, runs alongside AviaDev, bringing together some of the leading executives from the world of aviation and hotels, with top government officials and politicians.

Why Building A Sustainable Tourism Value For Synagogue Church Is Key

From the very beginning of human and religious history, many of the people or persons that propagated them are remembered for the touristic physical value they created while alive.

Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Han Buddhism, Taoism and Buddhism where they were practised; and thousands of years after those who promoted them have gone, their ideology and teaching spread across continents with many of their followers bonding fully when eventually they visit or tour some structures left behind by them.

These tourism values range from where such great prophets and individuals were born, the homes they grew up and temple built by them.

For Christianity, Israel with many places that are associated with Jesus Christ is popular among Christians while modern day Saudi Arabia which was the homeland of Prophet Mohammed is noted for Mecca and Medina, two of the holiest sites in Islam because of their tourism values.

For Nigeria, Prophet Temitope Balogun Joshua, Founder/General Overseer of Synagogue Church of All Nations [SCOAN], is a Christian that has taken Christianity to another level.

Since he began his prophetic journey, he has drawn a large crowd from far and near. His following breaks barriers of colour and race with the sick looking for solutions to their problems and enthusiasts looking up to him for inspiration.

However, his recent announcement that he could relocate from Nigeria to possibly Israel, is nothing but troubling for the tourism industry in Nigeria.

Many travel and tourism analysts; most especially religious tourism writers are worried of what will become the legacy of Synagogue Church and Prophet TB Joshua eventually?

Over the years, history taught us that despite the general acceptability of teachings of past prophets and great men, what makes them popular today and famous are sites and structures that are associated with them which also have tourism value.

However today, countries like Saudi Arabia, Israel, Jordan and several countries in Asia that were notable for some brands of religions are now even more considered and made famous for the economic value, rather than their original intent.

These places associated with them now draw visitors from around the world.

Across cities that are associated with religions, hotels of various sizes and shopping malls, souvenir shops and other businesses are built to provide services which boost the local economies.

Communities like, Ikotun, Ejigbo, Igando, Isheri in Lagos state have been transformed into small business enclaves because of Synagogue Church of All Nations.

Needless to say, the recent announcement of his purported relocation will not only rob Lagos State and Nigeria of economic benefits through tourism. T.B Joshua, the founder may also need to cement his name among great prophets that had lived when he is no more.

Though the current church building is massive, it still lacks the kind of spectacles that are characteristic of great places of worship of time past.

Israel is already saturated with many great prophets and T.B Joshua being a recent addition will reduce his acclaim.

For Prophet Joshua, he has earned his place in history and when he is no more, his prophetic prowess will continue to echo around the globe; what is left for TB Joshua to do is create touristic value for the church so that it will not be like some other churches that collapsed within few years after the demise of their founders.

Another clear example is the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s Spiritual leader who fled to India in 1959, his movement is now controlled and can receive only a limited number of visitors at the discretion of the Indian government.

The Dalai Lama’s Spiritual influence has waned and Tibet is denied the opportunity of growing its economy through tourism from visits by followers and enthusiasts from across the globe.

TB Joshua story will not be different should he relocate to Israel. His activities and movement will be curtailed knowing fully the security situation in that country.

Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed said in response to news to Synagogue relocation, “government will do whatever it can, to ensure Synagogue remains in the country”.

There is no place like home because TB Joshua and his church will remain a big influence and relevant in Nigeria.

Hurray! Our National Airline Is Finally On Its Way

For many years, some Nigerians who work in the aviation sector have been the ones campaigning against a National Carrier, saying the nation cannot afford one, based on the disastrous previous experiences.

Their main argument in most cases is that, government has no business in doing business. They also often said that government should leave the most critical piece of business in the hands of the private sector players which overtime have also proved incompetent; but can rather only function as errant boys to their expatriates’ counterpart.

To show how myopic the so called Nigerian professionals in the aviation sector think, the industry should be left in the hands of current players who at best can only muster between three to five aircrafts in their fleets to serve the 180 million people.

Many of them also forgot to take into consideration the security, nationalism, economic and empowerment of young Nigerians that may have wanted to work in the many aspects of the aviation sector that the lack of a national airline has robbed of today.

Also like in most other sectors of our national economy, the Nigeria aviation professionals are nothing, but economic saboteurs.  It is unimaginable for any right thinking person to kick against a national airlines just because of the fear of possible failure.

If Ethiopia, with its Ethiopian Airlines, a national carrier of that country that is wholly owned by the government can be effective, efficient and profitable; I think the aviation industry in Nigeria must be ashamed of itself.

The likes of Kenya Airways, Egypt Air, RwandAir, Royal Air Maroc and others despite the challenges of running an airline are still operational, Nigeria has no reason to give up in having one.

The recent announcement by the Federal Executive Council [FEC] and approval of advisers that would help chart a path for a new national airline is a welcome development..

Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika Sirika who briefed newsmen at the end of the FEC meeting recently said N1.5billion was approved for the projects, which would kick-start activities in the transportation and aviation industry.

According to him, the contracts were awarded to Messrs Lufthansa Consulting/ TN Aero FGE, for the national carrier; Messrs Arrow for Aviation Leasing Company and MRO; Messrs Infrata Dantens for the concession of airports; and JEBB was also appointed for the Aerotropolis and Agro Cargo Terminals.

The minister had also said the four most viable airports [Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Kano] will be concessioned thereafter.

A national carrier for the country would in no small measure help Nigeria reciprocate most of the Bilateral Air Services Agreement [BASA] with many nations.

For now, all the BASA agreements signed by Nigeria favours other countries due in part to the fact that she doesn’t own a national carrier. In 2015, Nigeria penned 15 BASA agreements and has signed over 78 so far and just a handful is reciprocated by Nigeria.

The agreement is lopsided. With a national carrier, Nigeria can reciprocate these agreements.

Since foreign exchange is scarce in Nigeria today, the government of the day will tremendously appreciate all avenues to earn it with the establishment of the national carrier.

In establishing of the carrier, majority of the stake in the airline will be privately owned while the role of government will be largely supervisory and regulatory.

Emirates, Etihad, and South African airways et al are among internationally recognized airlines in the world. Each airline is a symbol of national pride for their respective nations.

Citizens of these countries always want to associate themselves with their airlines.

It is also a source of good international relations. Nigeria and Nigerians will feel this way if and when a National Career- Air Nigeria is established.

The erratic and indiscriminate change in airfares experienced with private airlines will not be applicable to Nigeria’s national carrier.

The air fares will be affordable for every Nigerian and airfares will remain stable.

Just as mentioned above, opposition to the floating of a national airline comes from airline operators. Their opposition to it is understandable because of the serious competition it would pose to their operations. But many see it as a wake-up call for the existing airlines to improve their services and allow them to think out of the box.

They hinted that national carrier is going out of fashion in this industry as it has been demonstrated in many quarters. To them, National carriers succeed in countries where corruption is tightly managed as shown in the case of Ethiopian Airways. Many Nigerian operators lack the skill and financial muscle to compete even with the least airline in the continents.

Their situation is not helped by myriads of impediments that have constrained them from giving world class services. However, beyond the sad saga of the Nigeria Airways, the renewed initiative for a national carrier for Nigeria, experts say is a positive development that offers potentially significant dividends to the country.

Presently, the Nigeria aviation sector is still grossly underdeveloped and therefore contributes less than its expected quota to national development if anything at all.

 

My Drive Is For Commitment To Quality – Roman

Roman Krabel, is the General Manager of  Accra City Hotel [formerly Novotel], winner of  “4 Star Hotel of the Year 2016” in the Greater Accra Region from the Ghana Tourism Authority, “4 Star Hotel of the Year 2016” in Ghana from the Hotel Association of Ghana and the first and only ISO certified Hotel in Ghana and West Africa. In this interview with Lucky Onoriode George, Editor, African Travel Times in Accra, Ghana, he went down memory lane on how he came into the industry, his journey in Nigeria and his second coming to Ghana.

You must feel passionate about living in West Africa for over 10 years and the last five years in Ghana?

Something must be right! I think there are several things; the dynamic of the hospitality industry here is great. There’s a real passion here for the industry as well, the constant re-inventing of yourself and reinvestment in the property among others.

Ghanaians are unique as well; you’ll see for yourself, they are very friendly, flexible, and great for hospitality industry, you see smiles everywhere and guests can experience all the great Ghanaian food at our restaurant.

I think the multicultural nature as well, all the different people coming to visit Ghana among others. You can go to the North of Ghana for fantastic trekking. You can go to the South for beautiful beaches.  And Accra is fantastic, you have everything in Accra and it’s really a hub too.

What made you apply for this job?

I was contacted by one Shareholder for this role, and as I knew of the hotel and its reputation, I was instantly interested. When I came to the hotel for my interview, it was clear that Accra City Hotel [formerly Novotel] has a good philosophy and work culture. As a General Manager, I knew that my beliefs would fit in with the rebranding from the branded Novotel to independent Accra City Hotel, and I could make a positive difference to our guests, staff and overall business interest of the owners.

Are there benefits to being independent?

It’s much tougher. Some of us are big enough to have affiliations with groups or brands.

But for those who cannot, it’s much harder. In many cases, the brand does not pay off because you would be working for them rather than working for yourself.

Depending on the market and location, some products do as well as independents and some do not. It requires hard work.

You have worked for several companies; what is unique about Accra City Hotel?

Accra City Hotel is different as it is a privately owned and run company. Rather than having to deal with all the layers of bureaucracy often needed in International companies, you have a direct relationship with the owners, which makes decision making faster and our work more efficient. Things happen quickly and that gives fabulous opportunities to impact business.

However, you are also left to run your hotel as business; they empower and trust their General Manger which, as hotelier, is what you want.

Do you have exciting plans for the hotel?

Yes, we are planning a major renovation and extension of the property, actually. The hotel is made of two different wings.

The South wing is the original hotel which includes all guestrooms. In the modern wing of the hotel, we have the sloping front with a deluxe restaurant and modern Conference and Banquet rooms.

We will hopefully complete that next year. The hotel is actually 29 years old and was the first 4-star hotel in the late 80s which has developed a lot since.

Now with new hotels coming, it’s important to update and build upon what we have. The location still works very well and the loyal staff  have been here quite a long time too. The overall feel is, you can go to hotels that are very trendy but they only cater for certain types of clients. If it’s more neutral like us, you can cater for a larger range of people. That is our goal!

Are there commercial benefits that hoteliers need to be aware of in becoming a sustainable hotel in the Accra region? 

Accra being a highly competitive market, the cost of energy, water and waste disposal are comparatively high. In order to be more effective than the competition, hotels need to enhance their efficiency and adopt cost-effective ways to reduce waste.

Thus, operating as an environmentally conscious hotel like ours helps in reducing energy consumption drastically without adversely impacting performance.

There might be cost implications in implementing such initiatives, but the lengthy return on investment usually outweighs the cost involved. Some initiatives like retrofitting light bulbs, energy metering, and training staff to be conscious of energy use cost nothing, but can lead to substantial cost savings.

Being an environmentally conscious hotel definitely adds more brand value and gives a competitive advantage. Guests today are more conscious of the environment, as such there has been a shift in their lifestyle choices, including organic foods and fuel-efficient transportation.

So, I think environmentally friendly hotels that maintain their service levels, will be able to build a sense of loyalty among their guests.

Ultimately, the cost advantages and the positive impact on brand reputation are clear, but the most important reason to adopt green solutions is because it’s the right thing to do.

Irrespective of cost saving, or a principled strategy, it’s a way to recognise the environment, the community and the human capital as valuable assets, and help protect these resources.

The new restaurant menu is coming up soon, are you looking forward to it?

Oh, yes, the food at Accra City Hotel is fantastic! It is freshly prepared on board, changed seasonally and with fresh ingredients. I am very proud that our food is something that our guests come back for! There is such a strong team in the kitchen, our chefs are very inventive and always looking to impress – I feel some real positive vibes in our galleys!

Chef Lucky is creating our new menu and he is so creative, with an imagination that seems to have no limit! He also has a great eye for colour and presentation and I like that! I can’t wait to see his new menu now!

How important is innovation in a chef’s life?

You have to innovate if you want to learn, develop and grow as a chef, as well as make sure that your food remains at the level that you want it to be, technology in the kitchen gives you more possibilities, as well as more safety.

Advice for young chefs?

Work hard and discipline yourselves. Too many young chefs want it all these days and they want it now. They want the Michelin Star, the endorsement deal, the book deal et cetera, but what they don’t realise is how much they’ll have to work for it and how much discipline that requires.

As a chef, all you have is your reputation and you have to build and maintain it, and that comes with years of dedication and sometimes blood, sweat and tears, as they say! Find your path, define your goal and stick to it.

Keep working on it until you get there, and once you get there, keep working some more, but do also make sure you take the time to enjoy yourselves every now and then. And remember one thing: your restaurant is for your guests and nothing else; not for the stars, not for the books. Always remain committed to your guests, and they will remain committed to you. 

Why did you decide to work in hospitality?

I have been working since I was 16, and as a teenager the easiest place to get a job was in the bars and restaurants starting with washing up! I do think it’s important to start with the basics. I realised that I enjoyed it and was good at it, and decided to become a certified Chef and certified Restaurant Manager.

What have you always enjoyed about the hospitality industry?

I enjoy the variation the hospitality industry offers. It’s both challenging and rewarding with every day being different. As a General Manager, you have a real opportunity to make difference to both customers and their experience, but also to staff and their work satisfaction.

What is the highest purpose for which you do what you do?

The biggest drivers for me have always been lust for adventure and challenge.

There is no greater way for one to learn than throw oneself into new situations with new cultures, people and tasks. This is why I decided to commence on a career in hospitality business.

In hospitality, you meet new people and face new exciting situations on a daily basis. You can be sure there is always something to learn and adventures to challenge yourself with.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Dealing with people; be it customers or staff; this can be most rewarding. I remember how much my General Managers influenced me and my development as a young employee. I was given this unique opportunity, and I want to give back to my staff, by helping them develop and grow. My staff’s success is indeed my success. 

When you dine in a restaurant, what else do you look at besides the menu?

Actually, I look at many things, such as the concept of the restaurant, then design and size, the atmosphere, the type of guests and their behaviour as well as the behaviour and selling skills of the employees. And of course, the food must be good, tasty and presented well. Essentially, I look at the whole package.

Of course, it really depends on the guests’ expectations. At times, you may want to be spoiled by the quality of food and service. On other occasions, the atmosphere and environment is very exciting and the food and service may not be the most important thing. 

What are the most challenging issues you are facing on your current job?

When you work in a competitive city such as Accra, you have to pay attention to what is changing around you. We live in such a fast-moving world; the greatest challenge is keeping up with the new trends and adapting to them.

Our business is constantly evolving, for example, the booking industry has changed. Guests have many choices nowadays; we have to keep up with the changes. We have to be present on all sales channels.

The other challenge is that you need to understand what is important to today’s generation. Our industry is often challenged to find good and motivated young people to join us.

You need to know that their philosophy and values in life have changed so much compared to my generation; and adjustments in management styles to be made to accommodate this change. 

What is the best compliment you’ve ever received?

It’s a difficult question to answer. When guests are happy and they compliment the courtesy of my colleagues; when we achieve our goals and the team receives recognition, it is certainly a time to be proud; and of course, when young people consider me as their mentor. To me, these are the best compliments.

If you must make a choice, would you do the things right or would to the right things?

To me, it is more important to do the right thing at the right time. The most important thing is to have values, and as long as you do the right things based on your values, I think it will be alright.

People always say that we can learn from our mistakes, but why do you think so many people are afraid to make them?

I think no one should be afraid to make a mistake every now and then …as long as you don’t make the same mistake repeatedly. If you are afraid to make mistakes, you will never change anything, and you won’t learn anything.

When you make an honest mistake, it shows that you are trying new things. You learn from it and you should not be punished for trying.

Can you think of a time you made the impossible become possible?

One of the greatest tasks I was given in my career was that I had to cater for 6,500 people. I thought about it for many days and at the time, I did not know how this could be accomplished. To make a long story short, finally I discussed it with colleagues and managed the task as a team and it was a success story for all of us.

What is the single best quality your employees can possess?

The right attitude! They must genuinely please our guests. All the technical skills you can learn in time.

What do your employees expect from you?

I would say the same thing …but not just having the right attitude towards pleasing guests, but also having the right attitude towards the employees to ensure that they are treated fairly and motivated to achieve as a team.

“The best managers are also the best teachers.” Do you agree?

I don’t know if a teacher can be the best manager. I think being a teacher means “teaching”, and being a manager is more about coaching. I believe that a coach and a manager are more the same — they try to bring out the best in their people.

And what is the difference between management and leadership? In what ways are each important?

My personal opinion is that we all manage situations, events, people, but managers tell other people what to do, and leaders guide and lead others to make the right decisions.

So what makes a good leader?

A good a leader is a visionary that inspires, engages challenges, develops and empowers his team to exceed expectations… drive further and grow. 

What is the importance of empowerment?

Empowering our associates is a corner stone within Accra City Hotel’s culture. When associates are empowered, they are engaged within the business which directly relates to our financial performance. 

What advice would you offer to those who aspire to become a general manager in the hotel industry someday?

You need solid education and diversified work experience. You need to understand the importance of managing people as well as the technical aspects of the business. Of course, in order to be successful, the most important thing is that you need to focus on your guests. 

What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?

My strength is that I know my weaknesses. 

At work, what puts a smile on your face?

Receiving compliments from guests such as: “I’m really looking forward to coming back”.

What puts a frown on your face?

Team members not having the right attitude, and not taking care of our guests! 

Which Assurance will you give to provide the best quality at Accra City Hotel?

I am extremely pleased that Accra City Hotel has been awarded the certification of ISO 22000:2005 [Food Safety Management System] and ISO 14001:2015 [Environmental Management System], the first Hotel in Ghana that has achieved such a prestigious certification, which will re-energise, propel and invigorate our commitment to always deliver and maintain the highest possible quality and standards to our valued guests.

The certification is a seal of Accra City Hotel’s compliance to strict, internationally-set standards.

Being the first hotel in Ghana and possibly in West Africa to acquire both certifications, is a proud accomplishment for our Accra City Hotel ladies and gentlemen, for consistently upholding uncompromising standards in food safety, assuring our guests with trust when visiting our restaurant, banquets and outside catering.

Obtaining ISO 22000 and HACCP certifications will continue to strengthen the hotel’s credibility and reputation, build customer satisfaction and trust, reduce operating costs and increase operational efficiency.

The ISO 14001 standard specifies a path for continuous improvement and control of Accra City Hotel’s environmental performance. It enables the Hotel to identify and control the environmental impact of its products, processes, and services and also to improve its environmental performance.

Accra City Hotel is dedicated to maintaining quality and a high-level of service to exceed guests’ expectations, including in the area of high-quality food safety and environmental management. 

What are the advantages of hotels that have implemented quality managing system ISO?

The certificate of ISO proves that the hotel possessing it respects the entire international and national quality standards, and regularly surveys the quality system that has been incorporated in its business practice.

A correctly implemented and completed quality system brings certain internal and external advantages to the hotel. However, it is necessary to emphasise that the benefit amount is directly proportionate to the success of implementation and commitment of all employees. 

What’s next?

I don’t know. I feel fortunate! I live in a fantastic city and I work in a beautiful hotel. I am content. 

About Accra City Hotel

The luxury 4-star Accra City Hotel opened to the public for the very first time in September 1988.

Accra City Hotel has 196 fully furnished guests’ rooms of varying sizes with good quality interiors and complimentary mini-bar; it’s located on Barnes Road in the heart of the Ghanaian Capital, in close proximity to the City’s business and entertainment districts.