‘Hospitality business still faces 80% knowledge gap’
•Tourism has better revenue than oil, says HATMAN
The hospitality sub-set of tourism has brighter potential of sustainability and contributions to the national economy, but for the huge knowledge gap still facing its development.
The Hospitality and Tourism Management Association of Nigeria (HATMAN) recently made this disclosure as they rallied the youths especially, to get trained and pursue career in hospitality.
President of HATMAN, Samson Aturu, at an award of honourary fellowship for the South West Zone, in Lagos, said there are many accidental entrants into the business with only about 20 percent core professionals among them.
Aturu noted that the poor knowledge among practitioners explains why many hotels in the 80s, and 90s have fallen in standard or collapsed, even as new hotels are also not left out.
Aturu, who manages a chain of hotels, said: “the biggest challenge in the industry to date is untrained workforce. Everybody one builds hotels and does hospitality, but they are not professionals. If we have professionals across the board, we will not be able to quantify how much of impact the industry will make on our economy.
“Many of us are accidental graduates of hospitality and tourism. As far back as 1982 when I gained admission to read Hotels and Catering, I was chided by my parents because they belief that I was just going there to learn how to cook. But incidentally, today with the level of my exposure and experience, I am creating jobs. Because of the knowledge I have gained.”
He added that the association would not relent in creating awareness to let the public know that tourism can be richer than oil.He noted that hospitality was just gaining attention in Nigeria, compared to other countries like Kenya, South Africa, Egypt and Morocco that have tourism and hospitality as the mainstay of their economies.
“Tourism can sustain our economy, create jobs and alleviate poverty. If everybody can be involved in tourism, our problem of unemployment would have been taken care of.”
At least four professionals were awarded with honourary fellowship by the association. They are the Reservation Manager of Eko Hotels and Suites, Adedeji Adewale; Chief Faculty, Hospitality Business School, Eric Mekwuye; Omolola Adagunodo of Jumai Travels and Taiwo Ali of Lagos Oriental Hotels.
Mekwuye noted that the perception about hospitality was fast changing as chefs are going places.“The narrative is changing because even the owners of the businesses are getting trained. For me, the industry has just got on the way and at this pace, we will have a lot more to leave behind for the generation coming after us,” he said.HATMAN was established in 1998 and has over 4000 members from across all sectors that have hospitality arms.