‘Importance of tourism to Nigeria’s economy cannot be overemphasised’
After months of working on the project, APNO Hotel & Suites has finally opened its doors to customers in the serene and sedative environment of Awoyaya, Lekki, Lagos. The opening event was an opportunity for guests to take a tour of the new facility, which promises topnotch services to clients.
Meanwhile, statistics show that Nigeria, Kenya and Mauritius have the fastest-growing markets in Africa, with increases of 20.0 per cent, 14.6 per cent, and 11 percent respectively in 2018. APNO is therefore taking advantage of this development to invest in the sector.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, the General Manager of the Hotel, Chukwuma Chukwuemeka said, “A lot of international brands are coming into Nigeria, but we now have so many local professionals, who can offer satisfying services. The importance of tourism industry to the economy of Nigeria cannot be over emphasised. And of course, we know the sector’s contribution in reducing the number of unemployed citizens. Right here, we beat our chest to say that none of our 40 staff take home below the new minimum wage.”
According to the GM, quality service delivery is a major focus for the hotel.
“Before we started, we trained our staffs for a full month for them to get attuned to the professionalism that the job requires, because our aim is to provide top service. The fundamentals of the hospitality industry include security, comfort and convenience, and that’s our niche. We are here to offer comfortable service.”
On the unique selling point of the facility, he said, “We have 23 rooms with top class facilities. We have the gym, swimming pool. We have special car park with 24 hours electricity and our security with 360 degree Closed Circuit Television (CCTV), free WiFi and others. There’s a VIP bar and lounge, and of course, our restaurant to offer guest international and local cuisine.”
On the challenges of the hospitality industry in Nigeria, he said, “Infrastructure, double taxation are some of the issues we have; we build the road, provide water, provide energy on own. The tourism industry is just neglected because the Information & Culture Ministry is combined with tourism; there’s a lot of neglect. So, the tourism industry needs regulation.”
He continued: “I pay the Lagos State Government a tax of five per cent, yet, I provide water and electricity; it’s a big challenge. When you calculate the money we spend on diesel alone to power up this place, we could have used it to add to my staff salary and make them feel well. So, government should sit down again and look into what investors are going through because the hotel industry is capital intensive. We don’t have loans; even if they give you a loan, they give with a high interest. So, we want the government to reduce the tax rate. We also have VAT in high rate, and then when this happens, we have to give it back to the customers for us to serve them better and remain in business.”
On the issue of training, he said, “Most hotel proprietors don’t care about training their staff; they set up a hotel, pick up their brother or friends, who have no knowledge about the industry to run it. So, nobody cares about professionalism and that is why after two years, some hotels start crumbling. But in APNO Hotel, we are coming from a different angle; we are here for people that know what is good.”
On the choice of location, he said, “Lekki is a growing suburb; we have the Free Trade Zone, Dangote Refinery and a lot of other corporate organisations intending to bring their services down here.”