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Anambra moves to improve tourism development

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LOW patronage of hotels numbering over 500 in the state owing to what stakeholders described as poor  services  offered to guests by some hotel managers had become worrisome to the state government. As a result, the governor of Anambra State, Willie Obiano has through the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs, Culture and Tourism organized a meeting with hotel owners in the state with a view of  adding value to the hotel services, and making it more attractive.

  At a One-Day stakeholders meeting with the state government organized by the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs, Culture and Tourism, in conjunction with the Ministry of Transport as well as Ministry of  Youths, Empowerment and Creative Economy at the Conference Hall, Government  House, Awka, Wednesday,  the Commissioner for Diaspora Affairs,  Mrs Sally Mbanefo disclosed that the aim of the meeting was to proffer solutions to the problems faced by hotel owners. She said that a training program will be organized for the youths on how to book hotels and transportation for ease of doing business.

  She said that about five hundred hotels in the state had been enumerated and their registration done free, adding that ,”We as a state cannot start collecting money from you without partnering with you. It is a partnership”. She told the gathering that some youth corps members had been trained by the state government and they would help  in bringing businesses to the hotels. She said that Governor Willie Obiano was the first governor to create a Ministry of Diaspora and that when she came in, she created a ‘Home Coming Festival ‘, to get people come in and sleep in the hotels

  The commissioner noted that, ‘last year, we started a portal for the Diaspora. On the 25th of February, we are going to host over 5,000 Policemen in Anambra, so we will make sure they have hotels to stay’.’ Mbanefo who said that they went on an inspection of hotels in the state, observed mismanagement. ‘Some staff of the hotels were not trained. You train somebody today and add value to them, tomorrow, they go to somewhere, she said.

  The commissioner highlighted bad roads, unavailability of information communications and technology facilities, no presence of POS, epileptic power supply as some of the challenges facing  the hospitality business in the state. She disclosed that the hotel owners complain that  they paid multiple taxation which is a serious problem to them. Mbanefo however, encouraged them, saying that ‘the Ministry of Diaspora and Tourism was created  so as to maximize your profit”.

  She said that the state government has reached an agreement with Innoson  Motors for partnership. She said that there will be  a  Tourism Investment Summit which  will be held in June. Mbanefo announced that a sum of N1 million subvention has been approved for hotels to enable them upgrade their facilities and that the money attracts 7.5 % vat. The commissioner disclosed  that Governor Obiano has approved a Diaspora estate for people living abroad following their request.

  Speaking, the commissioner for Youths Empowerment and Creative Economy , Afam Mbanefo  lamented that most hotels in the state do not fill up to 75% of their rooms which is not encouraging. He said that we have so many youths who are unemployed and many had been trained on hotel services to work and bring value to the hotels . ‘We have to standardize  our activities’.

  From  the hotel owners side, the president of Anambra Hotel Owners,, said that they mobilised their members  to attend the meeting to deliberate on how to move the hotel business forward.. He pledged the support of his members to the state government.

  Also speaking at the event, the managing Director of Vigo Nigeria, Kanu Lucky, said that they opened an information desk for hotels. ‘In Anambra, we have low patronage, we need to drive economic activities in the state.  He was of the view that an enabling environment should be created for hotels in the state to thrive , hence, the  need for collaboration between hotel owners and related ministries. He stressed that customer retention is very important and to achieve that, efforts should be made towards upgrading facilities at the hotels, have good transportation and communication facilities.

  He announced that they met with a local vehicle manufacturers,  Innoson  and agreement reached  on e- transportation, for provision of 100 vehicles to hotels in the state to ease transportation of  guests. Kanu also said that hotels would pay 20% of the cost and two years warranty has been given. He added that private car owners who may use their vehicles for transportation in the hospitality business should also register with the Ministry of Transport. Arrangement he said, has been made with the Transport Corporation of Anambra State, TRACAS, for online registration. He explained that in this arrangement, customers could call the cab to come to their homes and pick them, take them to their destinations. He called for transparency, noting that for people to have a good relationship with the government, transparency is needed.

  A Diasporan  from North America, Macron Ileoguru in a remark, expressed happiness with the efforts of the state government  in improving the hospitality services in the state. He said that he wanted to come home, ‘We want to know our roots. We want to invest in our homes. We want to bring our children home; he said;

  In a brief remark, the  Special Adviser to the governor on  disability, Chuks Ezewuzie stressed the need for hotel owners to upgrade their facilities and to make provision for facilities that would take care of the people living with disabilities like having rooms for them at the ground floor of the hotel, have briars, wheel chairs and other facilities that could create enabling environment for the people living with disabilities. According to him, if these were put in place, hotel owners will thrive in their businesses as more people will be patronizing them.

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