Tourism stakeholders push for viable sector at NHTIC 2015

Speakers and stakeholders at the 2015 edition of the Nigeria Hotel & Tourism Investment Conference, NHTIC have tasked  both government and private sector  to make the tourism and hospitality sector count in the Nigerian economy.
The stakeholders also advocated a liberal visa policy devoid of stringent  ‎and difficult processes which will promote, tourism, trade and investment in the country.
Some of the foreign participants observed that the process of procuring Nigerian visa is to stringent and stressful.
At the conference, which held at Intercontinental Hotel Lagos, the speakers noted that now is the right time to show more commitment and action at diversifying the Nigerian economy and using tourism as a sure alternative to oil, especially now that the global oil price is falling.
The three-day conference went beyond paper presentation to offering veritable platforms for networking, interaction and exchanges among participants who were eager to learn new, discover new trends and also implement resolutions arrived at the conference for the growth of their businesses.
From the first paper entitled: Macro-Economic Overview, Sam Ohuabunwa, founder, SOFEE, thoroughly explore the country’s economic outlook, giving insight to would-be investors on how to go about their investments across the country and also meeting their expected investment objectives. 

Trevor Ward of   W Hospitality Group with other panelists at the NHIC in Lagos
Trevor Ward of
 W Hospitality Group with other panelists at the NHIC in Lagos

Placing the country against therest of the world, Ohuabunwa noted that despite the challenges of doing business in the country, Nigeria is still an investment heaven because of the high return on investment.
However, the picture became clearer when Trevor Ward, managing director, W Hospitality Group, exposed the growth and investment potential of the Nigerian hotel and tourism market. Ward gave detailed study on the hospitality hot spots, supply gaps and key segments with potential growth which would-be investors should look out for among others.
Moreover, Ward’s figure-based presentation was more convincing and enlightening as questions that followed later reflected the gray areas that bother must investors.
Also Laura Alakija, managing associate, Sterling Partnership, assured the participants and would-be investors the safety of the investment with her presentation on the Regulatory Framework in Nigeria: How can this be made easier for investors.
From the government perspective, Cross River State Carnival Commission led by Gab Onah, the chairman, unveiled the efforts at making the state the foremost tourism destination in West Africa. Onah noted that over time, the state has grown its craft, skills and even passion that have sustained the carnival, and other related businesses. Also speaking, Justina Ovat, principal consultant, Calabar Hospitality House Limited, noted that the increasing traffic to the state, especially during festive season, offers limitless opportunities for more investments hotels, resorts, tours and related businesses.
Moderated by Obinna Emelike, tourism, editor of BusinessDay, the Cross River State session at the conference ended with a formal invitation by Onah to the audience to participate in this year’s carnival.
There were other sessions featuring paper presentations on topical issues affecting the industry. The likes of Andrew McLachlan, vice president, Carlson Rezidor, Mark Martinovic, chief executive officer of Hotel Partners Africa, Samuel Alabi, legal adviser, Eko Hotel and Suites, Rosana Forsuelo, provost, Wavecrest College of Hospitality among others enlightened the audience with their various paper presentations that truly made the conference worth participating.
Earlier at his welcome remarks, Brian Efa, managing partner, Jonel Hospitality Consulting, organisers of the conference, noted that the theme this year; ‘Nigeria’s Tourism Industry-Catalyst for Economy Diversification’, was purposely meant to highlight the challenges of operating in Nigeria, opportunities and prospects of the industry and plans to in place to secure increased investment in the sector in the next three-five years.
Efa commended the quality of the speakers and their insightful presentations, the participants that made the conference well-attended, and promised a more impacting edition in 2016.
Organised in partnership with the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission and with the endorsement of defunct Federal Ministry of Culture, Tourism and National Orientation, NHTIC, is an annual event of the international level aimed at promoting the hotel and tourism business in Nigeria, and the West African region.

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