To encourage hospitality providers in the country to deliver quality and affordable service in Nigeria, the Federal Government has been advised to develop the manufacturing industry in order to reduce the cost associated with the importation of goods needed to facilitate service providers in the sector. Area Manager Nigeria, Starwood Hotels and Resorts and General Manager Sheraton Hotel, Lagos, Mr. Barry Curran who gave the advice in his office said currently hospitality service providers in the country are burdened with a lot of unnecessary importation cost at the nation’s ports which is impacting on their business.
He said if the industry is to drive economic growth in the country, the government needs to provide the basic infrastructure needed to make the sector thrive adding that the establishment of a manufacturing industry in the country would dramatically reduce the cost of running hotels. Curran stated that the industry currently is mostly targeted at the corporate business market saying that there are not many leisure resorts in the country when compared to other countries. He added that the leisure resort hotels will not come until the inbound tourism market is developed and the infrastructure needed to drive it is put in place. “Well the industry is quite unique in so far as it is almost exclusively targeted at the corporate business market, there is not a lot of leisure. If you look at other countries they would have a much higher proportion of leisure resort type of hotels, but those are yet to evolve in Nigeria and that will not come until the actual inbound tourism market is developed, which has a whole sets of requirement, in terms of infrastructure, air carriage, visa access, etcetera.
“So it is primarily targeted at the corporate business market, basically it’ is a mix of the inbound and the ones back here. There is quite a lot of national corporate activity with people doing business from city to city requiring hotels either for meetings or for accommodation and then clearly that is the traditionally inbound market. “I honestly hope that by the time the leisure market becomes a significant element of the overall market mix in Nigeria, that things would have changed. Because frankly speaking leisure is not around the corner, a lot of things have to be put in place first to attract the leisure traveler. “You are competing with very well established resort destinations worldwide and for them to come here the basic infrastructure, I don’t just means road and electricity etcetera, airport as to be in place. So that is going to take a good number of years and I am hopeful that by the time that happens that a lot of the unnecessary cost that impact our business will no longer be there.”
“As you know doing business in Nigeria has a unique cost that may not exist in other markets. For example a very, very high proportion of what we use we import. Importation cost are very high in Nigeria, in adding to that we have challenges with infrastructure, so you have the diesel element, generating your own electricity which add to the cost tremendously. And there are many other cost such as that, that we unfortunately have to add into our overall selling price.” The Sheraton boss further disclosed that the Starwood brand is set to open additional hotels in other parts of the country stating that “By the end of 2016 we would have opened one more, I also expect to have construction started on three more so that would take it up to nine. Six operating, three under construction, and then after that the following year I see additional project starting in construction as well.”