The President, Hotel Association of Nigeria, His Highness Eze Anyanwu, has said the recent hike in electricity tariff and fuel price by the federal government coupled with the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic might cripple the hospitality industry in Nigeria.
His Highness Eze Anyanwu, the National President, Nigerian Hotel Association (NHA), in this chat with OYENIRAN APATA, spoke on the celebration of the country at 60, effects of the hike in petrol and electricity tariff on the sector and COVID-19 palliatives for his members, among other issues. Excerpts:
Nigeria turned 60 on Thursday; what are your wishes for the country and hotel sector?
The Nigerian Hotel Association, of which I am the National President, extends greetings to the government and the people of Nigeria as the country turned 60 of self-rule.
We wish the country and the citizens’ well progress and pray to God to help the country finally get over the COVID-19 pandemic that has brought the sector to comatose for too long.
Generally business is poor and nothing seems to be moving because the situation has further been compounded by the global pandemic that has caused economic hardship not only to Nigerians, but globally.
Much as the government was not the cause of the pandemic, they should come up with measures that will cushion the effect of the economic meltdown on the masses that are suffering the impact most.
We have the resources to make Nigerians happy and the government should live up to the expectation of the populace.
At 60, Nigeria has come a long way, and we thank God for the unity of the country and pray that governments at all levels will listen to the cries of the masses by attending to their needs and fulfill electoral promises.
With the ease of lockdown and reopening of hotels, what is the situation now?
We, as hoteliers are not happy about the social and economic challenges brought about by COVID-19.
The fact remains that many people are still scared to travel and lodge because of the pandemic. Don’t forget that the hotel industry is private sector driven and that explains why the government must respond appropriately to make business environment friendlier in the country.
The hikes in electricity tariffs and petroleum products have not helped the hotel industry because it has increased the running cost.
This is a sector that requires electricity 24/7 to run. Electricity tariff is high and fuel that could serve as an alternate source of power generation is sold at a cut-throat price. The Government should consider the sector because of the important role hospitality played in every business and visits.
Business operation has not bounced back to the pre-COVID-19 period. Though, we are experiencing little visits since the reopening, but not large enough to sustain the business. Parts of the challenge Nigerians are still facing borders on fear of moving around freely. Even people you find on the roads are doing so with utmost caution.
Your members have filled forms for COVID-19 palliatives promised by the Federal Government; what is the update?
They made a promise and our members have been responding appropriately as directed by the government. But as I am talking to you, we hope that the promise will not fail.
The situation is difficult. The government must come to our rescue by paying survival fund to our workers.
The sack of workers will have negative effects on the rising number and cases of youth unemployment in the country and even theft in hotels.
We have pleaded that the government should fulfill their promise to help cushion the socio-economic effect of the pandemic on the hospitality sector that has suffered most.Our workers also have families and extended falilies to cater for, and if they are asked to go, what will become of their means of livelihood and upkeep of their families?
The 2020 World Tourism Day theme which centred on domestic tourism has come and gone, what is your take on this?
World Tourism Day has come and gone, but the government must fix the roads to enable Nigerians to travel around the country.
Roads across the country are in bad shapes and all tiers of government must rise to the challenge because many of the tourists’ attractions are in rural areas.
I salute the Federal Government efforts in some states and localities where various construction works are ongoing, but they can do better.
Since we are not travelling abroad, issues of the bad road network and insecurity should be addressed as these would boost domestic tourism. If roads outside the urban areas are good the sector will fulfil its potential to provide opportunities for all.