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Hotel investor counts losses, as COVID-19 threatens worker’s retention 

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By Ebere Chibuzor
Hotel owners and investors in Nigeria are reportedly battling with the frustration of surviving the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic since early March 2020, as they are beginning  to count their losses  while muting the idea of relieving  most of their workers to keep business afloat.
They lament that hotel patronage has significantly  dropped to a record low thereby affecting their earnings. Owners of some of these tourism establishment in the country have sought all means of keeping their businesses  alive while retaining staff but the negative impact of the pandemic has dealt a huge blow on them.
Blessing Clifford, an investor in the industry, in a chat with our correspondent recently told  The Trending News that hotel business in Nigeria,  especially in the cities,  have suffered  tremendous hit, thereby suggesting that government  at all levels should come to the aids of investors by offering them tax break  and other major incentives so that they can gather enough momentum to effectively run their businesses.
She expressed worry over government officials’ attitudes towards tax collection from hotel operators. She noted that since patronage has dropped significantly, the government at all levels need to show some sympathy towards operators.
 Clifford who is also  the General Manager, Britannia Hotel and Suites, Lagos claimed that  such development would support hoteliers to remain afloat in this difficult times. She specifically charged the government to reduce Consumption  Tax and Value Added Tax (VAT)  so as to enable the sector  retain sizable numbers of  workers, according her, it is the responsibility of the government to  offer tax rebate and palliatives to these private sector at a period of global pandemic.
Discussing how she has managed to survived the aftermath of the pandemic, she disclosed that her  background as a scientist gave her an  edge  over  other competitors. She said, “As soon as the management team got hint about the arrival of covid-19 pandemic in the country, we quickly shutdown the hotel  even before  instruction from the  Lagos state government on closing business establishment within the state. We were fast about doing the needful and so as not to expose our guests  to the pandemic.
“We observed  and still observing all  precautionary measures as directed by the government. As its currently stands, we are doing rooms spacing. This is how it works, among the 31 rooms, we intentionally do not use the whole 31 rooms due to  the love  for our guests and  we  do not want them to be exposed to the virus, every staff were taken to the Government approved test centres and were certified safe,  they were employed and deployed them to various departments.
She however noted that the prospect of hospitality industry  in Nigeria is high because Nigerian are in the look out for good hotels. So the business is lucrative but had recently been affected by the recent outbreak of the novel pandemic.
“Today,  we are recording low occupancy, this has joined other numerous challenges including epileptic power supply.
She advised the government to focus more on maintaining  tourism facilities spread across the country including the National Arts Theater and reputable cultural festivals including the Argungi fishing festival that have continued to serve as income earner.
Speaking about some of factors that made Britannia Hotel a delight  Clifford  said, “Britannia hotel offers  wide range of  services such as laundering, internet, sight seeing and also have facilities like VIP bar, bush bar, restaurant as well.
” With its serene environment in Ajao Estate, Lagos, our hotel uniquely offers in-house guests and fun seekers touch of home away from home services.
“We train and retrain our staff. And in Britannia we do not joke with our staff welfare.
“Security is paramount and we have both internal and external security and so there is zero tolerance for any  form of crime or criminality activities.
In a concluding  chat with our correspondent,  she revealed that tourism industry must be given topmost priority due to its ability to generate more revenue for the country.

Tourism

Boat operators seek government support to improve aquatic tourism

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By Ebere Chibuzor

Association of Tourist Boat Operators and Water Transporters of Nigeria has called on Lagos State Government to create enabling environment for practitioners in aquatic tourism.

President of the association, Mr Gani Tarzan Balogun, who is also the Managing Director, Tarzan Marine Enterprises Nigeria Limited, stated this during a recently organised boat cruise for female journalists in tourism.

He described policy inconsistency as a major challenge confronting ATBOWATON in its effort to achieve development in aquatic tourism business.

He said there were limited fuel stations in the water coastlines, adding that such development was taking a heavy toll on aquatic tourism.

He noted that opening new creeks would generate more revenue for the state.

For example, from Lagos Island, he said boat could take one to Isolo on the mainland.

“There is a channel at Okafa; taking a boat from Ibese to that place won’t take more than 40 minutes. But by road, it could take over three hours to reach the place. There is a creek at Isolo; government needs to tap into it.

“Again, when an operator buys a boat, payment and registration and other taxes have to be made to the government accounts. And so government will make money from it. And that would equally help to decongest the road.”

Even as Balogun acknowledged that the Lagos State Government had built two commercial fuel stations for boats; one at Ikorodu and the other in  Falomo, he stressed that they were not enough for existing many boats operating in the state.

“Boat fuel stations need to be built in some strategic locations, especially at their take-off points,” he stated.

He also complained about lack of dredging and provision of security among others as part of challenges inhibiting growth of aquatic business.

Balogun recalled that the late Lateef Jakande, as the first civilian governor of Lagos State, had opened waterways terminals.

“We are not making enough use of the waterways. Jakande had laid the waterways foundation that we are enjoying now and that is the reason behind ATBOWATON’s call to immortalise him and name one terminal after him,” Balogun said.

He also recalled, “Everyday of my life at the waterfront, I remember 10 years or 15 years ago one would see a Tarzan boat and maybe with two other boats plying Ikorodu to Lagos. And today, the story has changed; one could see more than 50 boats going back and forth.”

He appealed to the government to support the upcoming firms in the waterways business.

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COVID-19: As tourism suffers, Lufasi Park uplifts nature conservation as safe haven

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By Ebere Chibuzor

Over three decades ago, Desmond Majekodunmi acquired 20 hectares of land along the Lekki-Epe Expressway, near May Fair and Fara Park Estate, Ajah Lagos, with the goal of transforming it from a heavily forested area into an agro forestry farm and later into a private nature park, popularly known as LUFASI, an acronym for Lekki Urban Forestry and Animal Sanctuary Initiative.

But the Lufasi Nature Park Chief Gardener Majek as he is known had just had success creating what the nature conservation society believes is one of the most bio-diverse protected areas in Lagos.

He pointed out that “Lufasi is already a complete entity; one of the things we are promoting in Lufasi  Nature park is to protect nature. The only additions will be including more flower gardens and more trees because it’s a nature park. The whole purpose is to get people into enjoying the wonderful benefits of associating with nature. The benefits are very good health for your body, mind and soul.”

He also said, “The park is a very safe environment and it also allows people to appreciate the importance of protecting nature because if we do not protect nature, nature cannot protect us. Nature is our life support system. Everything we need to stay alive comes from nature; so we need to protect nature. This is why all the scriptures of the major religions are very clear that mankind is meant to be a good steward and care for the creation.”

Security is paramount as the local communities such as the Bashorun, the Abijoh and the Idiagbon Alayande are always happy and very proud of them. The police send their patrols regularly to see around. They have never encountered any ugly incident.

You might have heard stories, or have visited the beaches, festivals, monuments and even parks but the experience in Lufasi is quite unique and nothing prevents one from visiting this eco-tourism destination. The most famous area is the Ekki Forest with its red iron wood which breathes out large amount of the free oxygen that the tourists enjoy so much as they refresh themselves.

The other two most visited sites are the Lakes Moses and Nora which are accessed through winding pathways which tourists would always want to explore whilst getting some leisurely exercise walk. Majekodunmi named the two lakes in remembrance of his parents.

A very interesting thing about Lake Nora is the walkway that leads to the Love Zone. There, several fun seekers have proposed to each other and even later had their engagements and weddings in the park. It is a very romantic spot that really deserves to be there.

Then there is the relaxation place with the famous African Spurred Tortoise, named Mama T who always takes things slow and easy.

According to the General Manager Evans Basil she has lived for more than a century. It is also home for Terena palm trees and the wild local palm trees and if you’re lucky, you can get some very fresh palm wine.

They also have the Mona monkey called Tina and the African civet cat, stripped black on a white background.

The facilities offer a platform of playing activities for the children, sporting arena and the education centre its distinctive vibes, all grounded in a lovely park with some of the freshest air in Lagos.

There are also many resident birds of Lufasi such as song birds, kites and vultures as well as squirrels, butterflies, rabbits, goats, horses, donkeys and several other little creatures.

On a regular basis, you could also come across some of the veterans in the entertainment industry such as Burna Boy, Charlie Boy, Davido, Flavour, Omawumi, Nse, Osuofia and RMD making their music videos and movies.

The COVID impacted has impacted on attendance a great deal and people were not really going out much until they realised that actually places like parks are the safest place one can be so long as one keeps the numbers at a lower level and one practises the distancing and sanitization protocols. Some people are coming but strictly controlled.

Urban parks such as Lufasi Park, the Nigerian Conservation Park and a few other parks near the city are the safest places to be with the COVID-19 infection because they are more secure.

Many people want to travel; they want to go places but they are feeling insecure because of COVID-19 and the general insecurity in the country. So, within the city, the park is a much better place to go and it’s also good for the economy.

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Tourism

ANJET holds 2020 seminar November 17

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Ebere Chibuzor

The Association of Nigerian Journalists and Writers of Tourism (ANJET) says it has concluded plans to hold its 2020 edition seminar with theme “Post COVID-19: Recovery strategies for the tourism and hospitality sector in Nigeria”.

A statement issued by ANJET President, Omololu Olumuyiwa, said the seminar would hold on November 17 at Citi Height Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos.

The annual event aimed at furthering the association commitment towards developmental journalism, promotion and marketing of Nigeria tourism.

Olumuyiwa said, “Minister for Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Director General, Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Mr. Folorunso Coker, Director General, National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism (NIHOTOUR), Alhaji Nura Kangiwa,  Director General, National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), Otunba Segun, will graciously host top industry players including Founder, Akwaaba Africa Tourism and Travel Market, Ikechi Uko.”

The statement also disclosed that aside from Mohammed who would be a special guest of honour, Oba Olusola Adeniyi Olaniyan, Ariwigbade Oshigin II, Onipokia of Ipokia Kingdom, Yewa, Ogun State, would perform the role of the Royal Father of the Day.

‘‘For us as a major stakeholder in travel industry, the seminar is part of our contribution to deepening discourse and development of the sector and creating a platform for  various players across board to network, and promote their businesses and close deals.

“Our choice of Dr Wasiu Babalola as the keynote speaker is very crucial as a distinguished tourism scholar and hospitality expert globally recognised.

“He is expected to share his experiences spanning over two decades in the tourism and hospitality industry with the delegates.”

Similarly, Lagos State Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Uzamat Akinbile-Yusuf, is expected to use the occasion to unveil the post-COVID-19 action plans of the ministry to revive tourism as well interact with  various stakeholders, according to the group.

“ANJET as a body is devoted to the development, promotion and marketing of global tourism through its various activities, which are not limited to journalism and editorial work but also in the area of advocacy, education and enlightenment, agenda setting as well as networking and rallying operators to the course of developing tourism industry,” the statement added.

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