Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Nihotour lauded for splendid summit

Hotel registration to begin in Kogi soon

...Nihotour lauded for splendid summit


Plans have been completed to launch a hotel registration exercise across Kogi State, according to Mr. Joseph Maiye Olowolaiyemo, General Manager of Kogi Hotels and Tourism Board (KHTB). There are currently over 100 hotels in the Kogi State capital, Lokoja, alone; and, during an exclusive chat with Travels, Mr. Olowolaiyemo revealed the exercise will begin in a fortnight.

Each hotel’s representative is expected to pay N2,000 for the hotel registration application form. After submission of application form and subsequent inspection, any hotel that deserves approval will then pay the registration fee proper. The registration fee ranges between N10,000 minimum and N120,000 maximum, depending on the number of rooms, facilities and other criteria; the KHTB GM added.

An earlier hint of this development was dropped by Mr. Olowolaiyemo during a two-day sensitisation workshop for hospitality and tourism stakeholders, which held at Confluence Beach Hotel, Lokoja on September 12 and the 13th. Speaking during that summit, which revolved around the theme, Nigeria at 100: Transforming the tourism industry for national development, Mr. Olowolaiyemo revealed: “In my roughly 30 years in the (tourism) industry, this workshop is the best I’ve ever attended free-of-charge”.

The Kogi Tourism Board boss went on to commend the Dr. Munzali Dantata-led Nihotour for putting together the training exercise, even as he advised that such workshop should be held more often. The workshop was declared open by Kogi State Governor, Captain Idris Wada,  while the welcome address was delivered by Nihotour Director General, Dr Dantata. Furthermore, Kogi State Governor’s Cabinet was fully represented alongside other dignitaries that are members of the state’s Centenary Celebration Committee.

Among others, the workshop aimed at: Increasing public awareness on the rich tourism potentials of Nigeria with a view to harnessing them; Identifying the challenges confronting the Tourism Industry in Nigeria with a view to proffering solutions to them; and, Improving service delivery.

From the paper presentations and deliberations, participants noted and agreed that: For tourism to eventually take its rightful place and compete favourably at the international level, the issue of manpower training and development of the workforce must be taken very seriously; that there are abundant potential tourist attractions with very huge and viable investment opportunities in Nigeria, particularly Kogi State, which are waiting to be harnessed; that Lack of reliable tourism statistics in Nigeria has adversely affected proper planning and funding of the industry; that the roles of all tourism stakeholders should be well defined with effective synergy; that Tourist attractions in communities are potential catalysts for economic growth; and, that there was need to change the general orientation of Nigerians to tourism through legislation, educational curricula as well as encouraging domestic tourism, marketing/advertisement and so on.

The summit threw up many issues and sparked lively debates and discussions, which in part explains why the opinion of Mr. Olowolaiyemo that such workshop should be more frequent; was seconded by virtually everyone in attendance.

Due to want of space, we cannot delve into any paper in detail, but; in her lecture, entitled Quality Services in the Hospitality sub-Sector, NIHOTOUR’s Director of Planning, Consultancy and Information Services, Ladi T. Dakwo JP; observed: “Passion is vital. Hospitality and Tourism is not only about money. You must have a passion before you venture into hospitality and tourism”. To further drive in her point, she stressed: “Your passion will enhance good quality and good quality will ensure sustainability. If good quality is not there, people won’t come”.

She added that Nihotour is determined to push for quality service through emphasis on professionalism. “Training and re-training is important”, she emphasised, while advising hospitality and tourism outfit entrepreneurs to take advantage of Nihotour’s educational services. “Nihotour”, Dakwo continued, “also organises training in-situ, for operatives at work places”.   

Lecturers and their papers

Three papers were taken on day one, while the remaining two followed the next day. An overview of the tourism industry in Nigeria, by Dr. John Adzer, an Abuja-based Tourism Consultant; was the first of the five papers presented during the two-day exercise.

Aside from Quality Services in the Hospitality sub-Sector by Dakwo JP, which was the fourth paper; the other three lecturers and their papers were, Exploring and promoting the tourism potentials of Nigeria for effective transformation by Philip E. Maga, Nihotour’s Academic Secretary; Challenges of accessing and utilising funds by the hospitality and tourism SMEs by Sunday Victor Jimoh, a Lokoja-based Hospitality Consultant; and, Concept of tour operation and tour guiding by A. M. Sheriff, Nihotour’s Director of Travel and Tourism Studies.

Although Mr. Sheriff was initially billed to present his lecture on day two, he had to swap places with Maga, who gave his lecture on the following day, instead. The event, which was attended by Kogi State Governor, Captain Idris Wada; also featured addresses by Mr. Thomas Acholo, a Barrister and Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Kogi State.

Permanent Secretary, Kogi State’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Dr. Andrew Mubo Eniola, chaired the Technical Session on Day One, while Dr. S. Jerry Agbaji, Director (Tourism) in the same ministry, played that role on Day Two.

Apart from tea/lunch breaks as well as sightseeing, the paper presentations were also interspersed with interactive as well as Q & A sessions. Nihotour’s Head of Consultancy, Mr. Mohammed Olanrewaju, was on the committee that drafted the communique that trailed the two-day workshop.

The workshop, which was covered by travel writers and journalists from dozens of media, both electronic and print; drew scores of participants from Kogi, Niger, Plateau and other neighbouring states. Also attended was a young man, who gave his name as Dave Oluseggun. Mr. Oluseggun. Oluseggun said he works for Qualba Services, an outfit established to promote “Quality life and business”. He also echoed the praises heaped on Dr. Dantata and the entire Nihotour team as well as relevant Kogi State authorities for making such an illuminating exercise possible.

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