How To Realise Potential Of Nigerian Tourism Sector –Efa | Independent Newspapers Limited
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How To Realise Potential Of Nigerian Tourism Sector –Efa

Posted: Sep 5, 2015 at 12:01 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Brian Efa is an expert in the tourism and hospitality sector and Managing Partner of Jonel Hospitality Consulting. The company is organising the Nigerian Hotel and Tourism Investment Conference in Nigeria. In this interview, he spoke on the benefits the conference will bring to the Nigerian economy.  Excerpts:

What is the aim of setting up the company?

Jonel Hospitality Consulting is a tourism and hospitality investment advisor; we help individuals, government and foreign investors to develop and implement their tourism and hospitality investment plans. We provide information to governments, individuals and foreign investors, who want to invest in tourism and hospitality sector of the country. We do feasibility studies and provide the necessary advisory services for the prospective investors, both local and foreign.

What other services does the company offer?

We also do manpower training for companies in the tourism and hospitality sector, because the sector is in short supply of trained and qualified manpower worldwide. We train, recruit and manage high-level manpower in the sector.

There are Nigerian entrepreneurs, who have the capital but do not have the skill and time to set up and manage a tourism and hospitality firm.

How can your firm help that person?

Basically that is what we do; you have the money and you do not have the expertise, what we do in that situation is to manage the hotel for you for some time and hand it over to you after we have ensured that it has proper structures and is functioning efficiently and effectively. We can also invite international management companies in the tourism and hospitality in America, Europe and South Africa to come and manage the business for you, if that is what you want. If you have the money and want to invest in the sector, that is no longer a problem; we can help you from the design, to the acquisition, to the implementation to management; that is what our company does and we have been doing it successfully for many years.

And how has the company fared given the harsh business environment in Nigeria?

Well, consultancy as a business requires a lot of contacts. It has not been easy because we do not have enough contacts. However, we are building up our contacts through our integrity and the quality of the jobs we are doing. It has not been easy but we are moving forward as a company.

Jonel will in November organise an international conference on investment in the Nigerian tourism and hospitality sector. Tell us about the conference?

I travel to other countries and I see the huge amount they make from tourism but Nigeria that has over 70 destinations makes very little from the tourism sector. Each state in the country has the potential to generate over N100 million monthly from tourism related activities but we generate little because the processes and structures have not been put in place to tap from this potential. The sector has been abandoned despite the numerous tourism sites in the country and there is a massive loss of revenues from the sector. As a company that has interest in tourism sector, we decided to explore opportunity to expand investment in the sector. Tourism is labour intensive as it is capital intensive. There is a saying that says “one million opportunities”; so tourism has the potential to absorb many unemployed persons in the country because it has the potential to be the highest employer of labour. We felt that with the current government effort to diversify the economy of the country, we said let us bring experts and investors who are willing to invest in the sector to a conference to network and proffer solutions to problems in the sector. We also want them to discuss how to grow the sector and drive investment that can bring the needed foreign exchange to the country.

How are the preparations for the conference been?

Tourism is not a popular sector in the country; but we have spoken to many critical individuals and organisations, both within and outside the country and many have expressed their intent to attend the conference. We are now doing a media campaign to publicise the event; so far so good we have received enquiries from America, Europe, China, South Africa and many others. Speakers are coming from all over the world to attend the conference.

What is your assessment of the tourism sector in the country?

The potential for growth is enormous. For instance, if we have one million visitors or tourists visit Nigeria and each spend as little as one dollar as visa fees, which amount to billions of dollars, which will add huge revenue to the Federal Government. There are various tourist centres in the country, if developed, can attract tourists to the country. The long-time goal of the country is to see people from Europe, America, China and others come to Nigeria during the summer. We want them to come here when it is cold in their respective countries.

What can the government do to attract investment to the sector and also attract tourists to the country?

We need to understand that tourism should be developed at the state level but state governments have realised that tourism can be developed to be a top revenue earner. Apart from Cross River State during the period of Donald Duke, no other state has taken steps to make tourism a top revenue earner. What the states are doing is “copy and paste”. Cross River is doing carnival and every state wants to do carnival and no tourist wants to come 20 times in a year because he wants to see carnivals.  We are asking the states to consult us so that we look at peculiarities of the state and take advantage of them.