Worried by the negative impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic in Nigeria’s hospitality and tourism sectors, the leadership of the Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN) has concluded plans to embark on sensitisation visits to tourism facilities in Nigeria.
Starting with Abuja on March 19, 2020, the President of FTAN, Alhaji Saleh Rabo, led a team of the Federation’s executive members to lead hospitality outlets, including Transcorp Hilton hotel, Rockview Hotels and Kapital Klub Apartments.
FTAN President, who spoke with travel and tourism reporters in Abuja, said, “the global tourism industry is one of the most adversely affected by this rampaging coronavirus pandemic, and the industry in Nigeria is really very badly hit. Most hotels in Nigeria are now operating with less than 30% guest occupancy rate; thereby operating at a loss and consequently forced to downsize staff, in order reduce costs and save them from shutting down completely.”
Rabo also revealed that FTAN members are the largest financial and institutional investors in Nigeria’s tourism industry till date, including investments in hotels, resorts, transport services, tour operations, travel agencies, folklore entertainers and many more. He said members provide jobs to thousands of Nigerian employees, both as direct and indirect labour.
He, therefore, expressed sadness at the dire toll Covid-19 is having both on operators’ business bottom-lines and on the personal lives of tourist facility owners and staff members.
The latest FTAN sensitisation visit began at the prestigious Transcorp Hilton where FTAN executives were warmly received and held a brief meeting with the hotel’s General Manager, Mr. Kevin Brett and other management executives.
At the meeting, Alhaji Rabo explained, “this visit is two-fold in nature; it is both solidarity and a sensitization visit. It is a solidarity visit because we came to express our support and to stand with you in the face of the biting losses you are incurring due to low occupancy in your hotel. Secondly, this is also a sensitization visit to encourage you on the need to activate and sustain the coronavirus preventive measures for the benefit of your guests and teeming staff members.”
Responding, the Director of Operations for Transcorp Hilton, Mrs. Ebi Emmanuel-Seimodei, appreciated the visiting FTAN team and highlighted all the coronavirus preventive measures the hotel had put in place for guests and staff safety at the beginning of the outbreak, even before the covid-19 was declared a global pandemic.
She assured the visitors that enforcement of the coronavirus preventive measures in the hotel is total, assuring that all guests, including Nigerian and foreign dignitaries, must have their temperatures taken and use the lavishly provided hand sanitizers before being allowed entry into the hotel.
Subsequently, FTAN team went to Rockview Hotels and Kapital Klub Apartments where the management of the hotels displayed professionalism in their enforcement of the Coronavirus preventive measures. At both hotels, the visiting team met the hotels’ Health and Safety Officials and their General Managers, who elaborately showcased their guest temperature checking equipment and different types of hand sanitizers for guests and staff, including mounted and hand-held sanitizers. They also how their in-house medical team would collaborate with relevant government health agencies if the need arises to report asymptomatic guest.
Alhaji Badaki Aliyu, the General Manager of Kapital Klub Apartments said, “the fight against the spread of Covid-19 is everyone’s fight, especially for all staff and every guest. In the early days when we saw the contagious nature of Coronavirus, we immediately invested in staff training to prepare and equip our team on how to handle guests and deliver memorable hotel experiences, without compromising public health safety and personal hygiene. This is our industry; hence we have to contribute to keeping it afloat.”
Rabo, however, revealed that “the travel agency business in Nigeria, for instance, is being terribly hit by the pandemic. The travel agency sub-sector has lost over N160 billion since the outbreak, which had been heralded with mass flight cancellations by domestic and international airlines.”
Notwithstanding, the President of FTAN indicated that these sensitization visits would be replicated in each of the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria, led by each FTAN zonal Vice-Presidents. He assured travel and tourism reporters that the visits would be sustained and extended to airports, train stations, entry ports and other relevant tourists handling facilities across Nigeria.
Incidentally, there appears to be some reprieve for tourism and hospitality operators in Nigeria with the announcement of the Central Bank of Nigeria of an N50 billion intervention fund for the industry. But when reporters asked the FTAN President about the fund, he remarked that the Federation has not been officially notified by either the CBN or Ministry of Information and Culture yet. He, however, promised he would contact relevant government officials to ascertain the modalities of accessing such fund for the benefit of affected FTAN members.