By Priscilla Osaje
Mrs Funmi Kazeem, President, Hotel Owners Forum Abuja (HOFA) , says hotel business has contributed immensely to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Abuja and Nigeria at large, as it is the second largest employers of labour in Abuja after Federal Government.
Kareem stated this at the Hotel Business Conference & Expo (HBCE) 2022 edition, with the theme: ‘ The Future of Hospitality in Nigeria; Challenges and Opportunities ‘ on Tuesday in Abuja.
She said the conference aimed at adding value to the business of hotel, as well as benefiting the entire hotel and Hospitality value chain at large, in order to harness the economy growth, in spite of the challenges confronting the industry in recent time.
According to her, HOFA was form in November 2002 to protect the huge investments of members, by setting standards for the industry in Abuja as they mark 20 years of tenacious hard work.
” It give us a great pleasure to see HOFA grow in numbers and strength every year, as we are honoured in seeing skyline of hotel sector not just in Abuja but in Nigeria at large.
“The massive growing rate of hotels , bed & breakfast and apartments across the country while contributing immensely to GDP of Abuja and the country.
” The hotels in particular are the second largest employer of labour in Abuja after FG, as you can see there are no industries here in Abuja.
” Unfortunately, we are not given our pride of place in the scheme of things when it matters. Instead the industry is bedeviled by mirage of challenges.
” The challenges ranged from land use contravention, multiplicity of taxes and levies/ duplication of responsibilities, negative impact of COVID-19 pandemic and incessant harassment by government agencies,” she said.
Kazeem added that the event was meant to be an annual one that would help to address issues facing the hospitality industry, as well as creating an exceptional networking opportunity for hotels and hospitality industry leaders.
” The arrays of notable and seasoned speakers and panelist put together for the conference, avail us the opportunity to discuss extensively on topic such as Digital Hospitality and Hotel Management, Funding, Workforce: Emerging realities,” Kazeem added.
Speaking at the event, Mrs Lydia Jafiya, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, commended HOFA for such conference with great theme, that strongly focused on the digital hospitality in a dynamic generation.
Jafiya, who was represented by Mrs Patricia Joseph, Director, Domestic and Eco-Tourism Department, said HOFA had set a standard for the hospitality industry, by providing a platform for collective bargaining and sharing of experience.
” HOFA is the umbrella body/association that represent the interest of the substantial owners of hotels in Abuja, as they protect hotel owners investment with the view of promoting tourism”.
According to her, today’s discussion would expose those challenges and how to leverage on the available opportunities, in order to remain relevant in the face of emerging digitisation hospitality sector.
Also speaking, Alhaji Nura Kangiwa, Director General, National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism (NIHOTOUR), said Tourism and Hospitality has the potential to bolster Nigeria’s investment landscape, as it has the power to propelled the economy to greater heights.
Nura, who was represented by Dr Taiwo Famogbiyele Director, Research and Development (NIHOTOUR), said hospitality industry especially hotels, were the main nucleus of it positive impacts through the provisions of employment, structural development and income generation.
He added that hotels were boosting the existence and survival of support tourists’ facilities, such as transport sector, tour guides, restaurants, drinking spots, club houses etc.
” The industry must be made resilient to future shocks in order to digitise operations in the industry.
“Technology development are reshaping industries, disrupting business models , as well as profoundly changing the way we live , work and play,” he said.
Mr Folorunsho Coker , Director-General, Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation ( NTDC) urged the stakeholders to focus on vocational training, as they train people in different level , stressing that such acquirement would help out not only university certificate.
Coker added that creation of Abuja package would boost the economy based on the fact that people could sell their products.
According to him, Tourism Satellite Account (TSA) would enhance progression if put into consideration, as well as entrepreneur grant for women and youths in the six geo political zone for the growth of the economy.
” We must embrace digital technology because of the tremendous work is doing in the films and music industry,” he said.
Among dignitaries at the occasion were Transcorp hotel management, AES Luxury, Sysmax Technology, Scent Luxe, Abuja chamber and BAOBAB.
Others were Mr Folorunsho Coker, Director General, Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Alhaji Nura Kangiwa,Director General, National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism (NIHOTOUR) among others. (NAN)