By OLABISI OLALEYE
The Group Managing Director, Nanet Group, a hospitality firm, Mr. Ini Akpabio, has restated the need for government to consider establishing a Tourism Bank to boost investment in the sector.
Akpabio in a chat with Daily Sun in Lagos, also noted the actualisation of the idea would encourage more investors to come into the industry and also make it flourish more than it is today.
While arguing that the downward trends witnessed in most sectors of the nation’s economy was the result of having non-technocrats in key government positions, Akpabio urged President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure that only qualified people are appointed into his cabinet.
Failure of govt appointees in MDAs
The downward trends witnessed in most sectors of the Nigerian economy has been the result of having non-technocrats in key government positions.
Most people appointed into leadership positions are not professionals or experts in such sectors given to them to manage. In Nigeria, politicians appoint people based on relationship not on experience and professionalism and that is why they fail. If such maladministration is not corrected, no sector of the economy will work because the right people are not in the right positions.
Nigeria’s abandoned historical site
It has become important that government should revitalise abandoned historical monuments and build hotels and tourism sites across the country. This because there are lots of abandoned government hotels, monuments and tourism sites that are not in good condition. But this administration can focus on the abandoned historical sites, hotels and monuments to boost the tourism sector because the country is blessed with enormous tourism and hospitality assets that can be used to raise government revenue.
This government needs not spend much in establishing tourism sites or monuments but to reactivate the abandoned ones.
Alternative to oil
This administration can explore hospitality and tourism sector as alternative means to oil sector. Government should diversify the economy through the tourism and hospitality industry as it poses less hazard to the environment unlike the oil sector. As a matter of fact, the hospitality and tourism sector is the third employer of labour after agric sector and should be highly prioritised and government must look at the industry as something that must be developed.
The industry is capable of employing over one million citizens annually, thereby, reducing employment challenges in the country. For instance, in Turkey, Sweden and other nations, they thrive on tourism and hospitality. A city like Antalylia in Turkey has over 450 star hotels, which employ more than two million citizens. We are not talking now about the country’s capital, which also employs more. What I am saying in essence is that if we truly develop this industry, unemployment would be history.
This industry can also help to increase the nation’s gross domestic earnings by 50 per cent and also help in poverty alleviation.
Electricity is key in every facet of the economy because without electricity, it will be very difficult for Nigeria to industrialise and become an organised nation like South Korea and other developed nations.
This new administration needs to tackle other vices including epileptic power supply that have shot up operational expenditure of most companies while insecurity has led to decrease in hotel reservations. If government does not pay lip service to all these things, we should have a Nigeria that works.
Federal Government needs to create good road networks to tourism sites across the country and also provide infrastructure to aid the sector. Tourism cannot flourish if there is poor road network and infrastructure, and government needs to put all these in place to make the industry thrive.
Expectation from Buhari’s govt
Government needs to provide grant to enable investors in the sector to support the growth and development of the industry. Although government cannot do it alone, it requires the support of public and private partnership but it needs to take the lead.
There is need for government to make sense of the industry through creating a Tourism Bank, just as there is the Bank of Industry. This would provide soft landing for investors and also facilitate the issuance of soft loans to them.
The idea is to encourage more investors in the industry and also to make it flourish. Such fund can also help to build more hospitality and tourism schools across the country to train more professionals for the industry.
The establishment of the bank would also help in opening up the existing undeveloped tourism sites in the country. The sector in the country has not improved as expected. Although the industry is fast growing globally, its development is slow in the country. Therefore, there is the need for government to establish such banks to aid the development of the sector.
Although textile, entertainment and some other industries enjoyed soft loan facilities from the Bank of Industry, there is need for a Tourism Bank to aid the growth of the tourism industry.
Part of the bank’s mandate, if established, should be to grant soft loans to both private and public investors in the tourism sector.
Running hospitality and tourism business requires huge capital to set up. Therefore, government should establish the bank for investors to have access to soft loans to run their businesses.
Of course, government would get huge revenue in return because such investors would pay tax and other necessary levies. Levies would increase the nation’s Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) and also improve the Gross Domestic Products (GDP). However, there should be a reduction of the interest rate on loans to tourism investors and other entrepreneurs. The reduction would boost tourism in the country and also increase in-bound tourists to the country.
The promotion of most tourism sites in the country was being hindered by paucity of funds and lots of people are willing to invest in it but interest charged on loans remain exorbitant.
Loans in foreign countries are given out at three to two per cent or zero interest rates. This enables rapid growth in the business but here in Nigeria, interest rates are from 28 per cent upwards, a development that is absolutely unfair and tends to affect the growth of tourism business in the country.
In the last three years, hospitality and tourism have suffered greatly. The sector lost of billions of naira due to volatile destructions by insurgents. Areas like Borno, Yola, Maiduguri are not left out and this has greatly caused a huge reduction in foreign Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) booking hotels for their delegates. That is why tight security should be put in place to tackle future ocurrence.
Technology plays a very pivotal role in hospitality and tourism business. Government needs to bring technology into security, as this would help in tracking criminals.
Even now, online booking is key as many hoteliers leverage on this to facilitate service. People order their menu, online booking, while most hotels’ kitchens are using highly technological equipment now.
The truth of the matter is that Nigerians are very fast in imbibing new technology and are very advanced in adopting new technology.
Our hospitality firm manages over six hotels in the country. Government should involve experts like us in hospitality and tourism projects.
Source : SunOnline