Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Register or close shop - Nigeria's apex tourism body tells hospitality outfit owners

NTDC issues 30-day ultimatum to hotels' owners, Police lend weight to sanitize industry

The Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) has issued a 30-day ultimatum to proprietors of hotels, motels, guest-houses, nightclubs, restaurants and related outfits to register with the Corporation or be shut down.
Pic 1. PHOTO: NTDC Press

Additionally, the relevant entrepreneurs are expected to furnish NTDC with details of the profile of their staff, such as a worker’s nationality, for necessary documentation by the security agencies.

Pointing out that, it is a culpable offence to run a hotel or other hospitality enterprise without a signboard; the NTDC Director-General, Otunba Olusegun Runsewe, in a statement issued in Abuja yesterday, 15 February 2012; added that the observance of this new directive on registration and related matters is nationwide.

The statement added that the identity of every staff in the industry was also required because there are reasons to suspect that many illegal aliens are engaged in the hospitality business in Nigeria to the detriment of qualified and Nigerians.

“We cannot afford to allow our hospitality enterprises to be used as dens for crime and criminals”, stated the NTDC chief, while noting that; in the interest of safety and security, it has become inevitable that security agencies must be furnished with the nominal roll and related inventory of every tourism enterprise, in the light of the strategic nature of the industry.

Interestingly, this statement came on the heels of a joint press conference between the NTDC and the Nigeria Police Force, where the public was reminded that, by law; Nigeria’s apex tourism body has the mandate to register all hotels and other hospitality enterprises with a view to gathering a comprehensive database for effective and necessary regulation in the industry.

Speaking at the joint news conference, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mr. Mohammad D. Abubakar directed all proprietors and operators of hospitality centres to register with the NTDC to avoid being prosecuted for operating illegally.

At the media event, which was witnessed by some 40 police top-brasses, including 20 commissioners, the inspector general revealed that all commissioners of police have been directed to enforce the order.

“Let me state that the Nigeria Police Force is committed to the enforcement of all laws and will work with the NTDC to ensure the enforcement of this regulation at the federal, state and local government levels”, declared the IGP; while reminding that his directive is in line with the act that established Nigeria’s apex tourism body.

In fact, Alhaji Mohammad’s directive dovetails with NTDC’s quest to develop a reliable database of all hotels operating in Nigeria. Such data bank, it stands to reason, would help various security agencies effect necessary surveillance on hotels and other tourist destinations, thus ridding such sites of criminals.

The IGP, who went on to express worry that lately some hotels, guest-houses, parks, recreational centres and other tourism facilities become sources of security concerns, pointed out that tourism facilities could be exploited or misused by characters with hostile intentions like espionage, terrorism and other unwholesome activities. Hear him: “The tourism industry is highly sensitive and cannot be developed or promoted in an environment where security is not guaranteed”.

As to what to do about one or two states that have refused NTDC’s hotel registration exercise in their domain, the IG said that ultimately, “the law would take its course”, adding that the news conference was meant to address such revelant issues.

In his response, the NTDC DG expressed special gratitude to the IG for the new wind blowing across the country. Otunba Runsewe said that this new wind was responsible for the restoration of public confidence in the Nigeria Police. Otunba Runsewe also noted that with the new IG, a new chapter has been opened in the drive towards national security and tourism development.

In his conclusion, while pleading with everyone to always furnish the police with relevant information; the NTDC DG advised hotels’ managements to always employ the services of trained security personnel among their staff as well as solicited the support of every Nigerian in the quest to rid the society of crime.

This latest move, one must point out, proves that Runsewe’s interest in the safety and security of all tourism sites endures. It could be recalled that the NTDC had similarly engaged the Police two years ago in its drive to sanitize the tourism industry, and the law backing the setting up of the NTDC “empowers it to register, classify and grade hotels and other hospitality enterprises”.

It is also worth noting that Decree 81 of 1992, which is now an act of the National Assembly, vests responsibility of hotels’ National Registration Exercise on the NTDC.

Indeed, Runsewe’s concern about safety at every tourism venue or destination is commendable because insecurity and tourism are like oil and water; they just cannot mix.

NTDC DG Runsewe and IGP Abubakar.

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