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Africa: Marriott International Seals Deal to Open 8 properties in Nigeria

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Global Hotel Brand, Marriott International said it has signed 8 new deals to increase the number of its property in Nigeria’s hospitality industry.

Vladimir Dabbah, Vice President, Global Sales Middle East and Africa, said the new hotels will be opening in the next five years.

Speaking at forum tagged Marriott International meet and Greet Session held for stakeholders in the industry held at Sheraton Hotel, Lagos he said the company is constantly looking out for opportunities to grow and expand its reach in Africa.

Vladimir noted that Nigeria remains one of the most strategic markets for growth within the Middle East and Africa.

He said: “We have global relationships TMCs and we work with TMCs like America Express, BCD and others on a global level and in the local market, we localise that relationship with the same terms and conditions, with the same agreements that we have in place but the local connectivity is incredibly important.

“We are working with our owners in order to develop additional hotels. We have signed 8 deals that will open over the next 5 years and we are continuously looking out for additional opportunities to grow. Nigeria is probably one of our most strategic markets for growth within the Middle East and Africa.

“Our goals are based on how we can add hotels within a certain country, bring them up to the level of talent within that country so that they can be efficient and effective within the hotels. Its about how you can develop the talents within Nigeria so that the people working in the Nigerian hotel industry are Nigerians. Whether it is junior level or senior levels, we want to see our general managers from Nigeria for example. But you have to start from the bottom educating and providing the right level of training so that the employees would then grow and take on additional responsibilities and become leaders within the industry in the property segment.”

President, National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA)and Managing Director Finchglow Travels and Tours, Mr Bernard Bankole who spoke at the event said there was need for greater corporation between Marriott and Travel Management Companies (TMC) in the country noting with good synergy the organisations can maximise the opportunities in the travel and hospitality industry.

“The good thing about travel and hospitality is when we make provisions for those that have to travel somebody have to provide them with accommodation, the tour, where to buy things and so on.

It means that we constantly have to work together and that is the only way we can maximise the best out of this relationship.”

Bankole stated that Nigeria remains an investment haven for investors and encouraged the Marriot team to take advantage of the country’s population to expand its property in the country.

He noted that: “One of the things that we are going to be benefiting in Nigeria of today is the fact that IATA has approved the use of card payments for settlement on the BSP platform and for passengers to use their cards to make payments. With that we are going to see more people showing interest in doing business in Nigeria”.

Bankole added that the travel industry will continue to experience an increase in passenger traffic affirming that with the implementation of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) last month by Africa Union (AU), the industry will experience surge passenger movement.

“Travel in Africa has not been really tapped, the last time I mentioned that in 2017 $1.4 billion was spent by Nigerian travellers. The truth is I see that figure going up this year, because a lot of people couldn’t travel like they would want to last year because there were some restrictions- the airlines cut down on capacity, frequency was also reduced and that impacted on people’s movement. This year we are not going to have anything like that because the exchange rate has become stable, the ability to repatriate their funds has been made for them, so things are going to be a lot better in 2018. So I see huge opportunity for travel business this year and what is going to happen is that we will see the figure that we saw in 2017 going up by 20%-30%”.

Also speaking at the event, Business Development Manager, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Doyin Ekundayo said Nigeria is a big investment destination in Africa with a large population of over 180 million.

She said: “You cannot exhaust the investment opportunity that the country has. The beauty about Nigeria is that we have an untapped tourism industry and the market is so fresh. We were ranked 169 in the global index of ease of doing business but towards the end of last year we scaled up to 145, we remain a big investment destination in sub-Sahara Africa”.

She added that despite the glaring challenges the country is facing, the government is constantly putting structures, and policies in place to abate those challenges.


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