Ini Akpbio, Managing Director, NANET Hotels Limited, one of Nigeria’s leading indigenous hospitality management companies, has called on the federal government to come up with a policy or legislation that can limit international brands on what category of hotels they can manage to allow the local operators grow.
Akpbio gave the advice recently during an interview with Lucky Onoriode George, Publisher/Editor of African Travel Times Magazine.
According to him, the international chains are integral part of the entire industry system on the continent, and as such must work with related national bodies if the impact is to be felt rather than being an Island to themselves or a system with a system.
Akpabio noted that without being ashamed, “There is always an inferiority complex with the local actors across the continent, but also praised the presence of the likes of Hilton, Sheraton, Golden Tulip; and even the continental brand like Protea have brought international standard thus also help pushed up the quality of services and standards among local operators.
On the emergence of ‘brand franchising’ in Nigeria and most part of West Africa, Akpabio said it’s a welcome development too because of the role brand plays in modern hospitality business.
He however, warned that there must be a mechanism in place to ensure that the franchisees comply with the standard prescribed by the franchisors.
As one of the few privileged professionals to have been trained in one of Britain’s Universities top hotel and hospitality department, Akpabio posited that in United Kingdom, there is a government agency under the Ministry of Commerce that oversees franchising of brands in the hospitality sector to ensure compliance by franchisees.
Akpabio regrets that here in Africa, there are in most cases absence of monitoring and quality control by necessary government agency and that the franchisors are at the mercy of franchisees.
“We must understand that brand or brands connote quality and standard”. If someone that is used to a particular brand or brands back home, wherever they travel to, they always look out for such and where they also expected same standard and quality to be same and similar”, he said.
While responding to questions on the upcoming Africa Hotel Investment Forum [AHIF], Akpabio noted that the idea is a welcome development, but that such initiative must bring all stakeholders together for the benefit of the entire travel and tourism industry.
Also reacting on what has been the impact of the 2013 Nigeria Supreme Court judgement that handed over issues relating to Hotel and hospitality registration, grading and classification to the states and Federal Capital Territory [FCT] respectively, he posited that the judgement presented the states and the FCT an ample opportunity to build capacity as well as engaging qualified consultants to appropriately carryout effective and efficient registration, grading and classification.
He said angrily that the industry lost nothing with the judgement, but rather an opportunity to move forward.
“What did the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation [NTDC], federal government apex tourism agency was saddled with those tasks achieved when they were doing it? He asked.
On what should be the role of the Economic Community of West Africa States [ECOWAS] tourism initiatives that have seen the regional body tourism department squandering millions of Euros of donors monies, Akpabio is of the view that in as much as national governments cannot get their respective tourism policy right, he noted it would be extremely difficult for a regional integration tourism project to work.
On way forward for the sector, Akpabio hinted that the various governments at all levels must work with the private as stakeholders rather than master and servant situation.