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COVID-19: Anabel boss seeks more govt support for tourism, hospitality industry

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By Ebere Chibuzor

Thriving tourism sector in Nigeria has been threatened by the new COVID-19 strain even with measures being put in place to contain the virus.

This observation was made by the General Manager, Anabel Apartment and Suites, Vikas Saini, who noted that hotel occupancy had dropped drastically, leading to increased job loss in the travel and tourism industry.

Saini, who is also Chief Operating Officer at Anabel Apartment and Suites further, urged the Nigerian government to do more to support the hospitality industry.

He said, “Hospitality and tourism sector has also had its own share of the challenges arising from COVID-19 lockdown” imposed last year by the Nigerian’s government, stressing that with government’s announcement of stay-at-home and “social distancing” directives, most restaurant businesses were adversely affected. He said this led to rapid shutdown in cities and states to control COVID-19 spread, throwing many restaurants and hotels across the country out of business.

Saini pointed out that resorts and hotels booked by excited vacationers and corporate conference goers before the present COVID-19 pandemic had to be cancelled.

According to him, prior to the pandemic outbreak, hospitality sector was a major revenue earner, with propensity of creating thousands of jobs annually.

For instance, he said, “Nigeria has a long coastal line, forest reserves and cultural heritage sites which can improve tourism.”

However, he noted, “The impact of COVID-19 is making it extremely difficult for many of the hospitality industry’s establishments to continue paying workers with a sharp drop in sales and income, resulting in job losses.

“Many hotels are already closing down because of low patronage and inability to meet up with payment of workers’ salary, electricity bills and other operating expenses.”

He also gave major challenges of the hospitality industry in Nigeria as poor energy supply and cynical global perspicacity, poor standardisation and flawed hotel classification.

Others are inconsistent regulatory environment and skilled labour shortage caused by a few entrepreneurs with little knowledge of the workings of the industry as well as different taxes being paid to various forms of government.

Saini however noted, “Nigeria’s tourism sector, with its great potential, has not been explored maximally.”

He also spoke about “Anabel Apartments and Suites, which he described as the latest bespoke boutique apartment hotel in Abuja,  providing one of the highest quality accommodations and impeccable services to an expanding array of noble and appreciative customers.

With emphasis on building loyalty through high level of quality service, he said the hotel aimed to offer clients modern stylish and affordable apartments, suites and independent rooms for both short and long-term stay.

He said, “We have a well-equipped modern multipurpose hall, with good acrostic characteristics, ideal for conferences with seating capacity 200 guests’ minimum, banquets and meetings.

“Do not be amazed, at this time, Anabel Apartments and Suites invites guests to experience African menu of culinary delights; though the hotel’s in-house bar was a great place to relax hitherto, this allows guests to choose from a colorful assorted drinks stacked in finely cut-glass bottles.

“The new outdoor pool bar is another exciting offer. Standard features and facilities in Anabel are super king bed size, free high speed wifi connection, secure digital safe, laundry service, SPA, GYM, swimming pool and many more. Additionally, the hotel is strategically located at a serene niche in the highbrow Asokoro Residential District, Abuja.”

Saini further explained that in relation to the cost per unit space and quality of accommodation, ANABEL offers the most competitive rate and value for money package amongst the prime apartment and hotels in Abuja.

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NURTW moves against highway crime, adopts vehicle e-tracking

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The National Union of Road Transport Workers says it will track members’ vehicles electronically as a way to address the spate of kidnapping and insecurity on expressways.

The union, during the National Executive Council meeting in Osogbo, Osun State capital, said it was imperative for them to use electronic tracking device in curbing the menace of kidnapping and insecurity on expressways in the country.

President of the union, Alhaji Tajudeen Baruwa, said the NURTW had lost many members to banditry while many were kidnapped.

He said, “We have resolved to use tracking to monitor our members’ vehicles. This will help us to alert our members of impending dangers.

“We admonish our members to be security conscious; the issue of insecurity in the country is worrisome. Many times our members are been kidnapped across the country, we have lost many members as a result of insecurity and there is no compensation from the government. So we really need to be careful and vigilant when we are on the steering. E-tracking will help passengers and our members after we put it to use”.

Baruwa thanked members for their support and confidence in his administration.

He said the administration was faced with serious financial challenges and the emergence of the COVID19 affected their revenue, adding that it was a miracle to have survived the devastating effects of the lockdown.

 

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EFCC arrests, grills ex-Imo governor, Okorocha

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has arrested former Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha.

He was arrested in Abuja and was later questioned by the EFCC over issues bothering on alleged corruption.

Okorocha, currently representing Imo West at the Senate, was grilled at the EFCC Abuja office on Tuesday.

EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, confirmed the development but did not give further details.

 “It is true, he was arrested today in Abuja but we are not giving details,” he said.

Okorocha had been accused by the Imo government of looting the state’s treasury through various malpractices.

He was in February arrested by police from the Imo State Command for allegedly unsealing Spring Palm Estate linked to his wife, Nkechi.

Okorocha was later released but about 14 of his loyalists are being tried.

The Imo State Government had sealed the Spring Palm Estate and other properties claimed to have been “diverted” by Okorocha and his family members.

But the Senator said the properties were legitimately by him and his family members.

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NBS: Used vehicles, motorbikes, PMS top Nigeria’s imports

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Used vehicles, motorcycles, premium motor spirit, popularly called petrol, and antibiotics were the major products imported by Nigerians from India, Spain, the Netherlands, United States and China in the fourth quarter of 2020, the National Bureau of Statistics has said.

The bureau stated this in its just released Commodity Price Indices and Terms of Trade Q4 2020, according to a Punch report.

It also stated that the major commodities exported from Nigeria to the five nations were crude oil and natural gas.

The NBS said, “The major export and import market of Nigeria in Q4 2020 were India, Spain, the Netherlands, United States and China.

“The major exports to these countries were crude petroleum and natural gas. The major imports from the countries were petroleum motor spirit, used vehicles, motorcycles and antibiotics.”

The bureau stated that the all-commodity group import index increased by 0.13 per cent between October and December 2020.

“This was driven mainly by an increase in the prices of base metals and articles of base metals (one per cent), boilers, machinery and appliances; parts thereof (1.03 per cent), and products of the chemical and allied industries (0.75 per cent),” it stated.

According to worldstopexports.com, Nigeria imported about half (49.6 per cent) of its imported goods by value from Asia in 2019; another 30 per cent from suppliers in Europe with 11.2 per cent arriving from North America.

Smaller percentages were said to come from fellow African nations (6.5 per cent), Latin America (2.3 per cent) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, then Oceania (0.3 per cent) led by New Zealand and Australia.

Given Nigeria’s population of 201 million people, its total $47.4 billion in 2019 imports translated to about $240 in yearly product demand from every person in the West African region country.

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