The need to classify hotels and tourist sites cannot be overemphasised as such grading would provide a clear distinction on the type of facilities and services available in the hotel.
Regrettably, grading of hotels and tourist sites in Nigeria had become a mirage 54 years after the country attained her independence in 1960 despite its pivotal role in developing the tourism sector.
A cross section of stakeholders that spoke to LEADERSHIP Friday suggested that it was the prerogative of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation(NTDC), and states, to classify hotels and tourist sites while others argued that it requires the collective responsibility of both the government and citizens.
The president of Hospitality and Tourism Management Association of Nigeria (HATMAN), Mallam Aliyu Badaki Ajayi, regretted that since the country attained its independence in 1960 the issue of classification of hotels and tourist sites has not been settled, saying that tourism professionals were not engaged in most cases to anchor strategic tourism positions. Contradicting the Supreme Court judgement on the classification of hotels, he said that Decree No 81 of 1992 empowered the NTDC to classify hotels but that it was expected to collaborate with relevant stakeholders in carrying out the assignment.
“The classification and grading will ensure proper standardisation in terms of facilities, services, pricing and healthy competition in the industry. It will enhance the marketing and promotion of the facilities and services at both local and international markets. It is also a means of packaging the nation as a serious tourism destination for the global travel market.
Also, the organiser of Abuja Bantaba and Akwaaba African Travel Market, Mr Ikechi Uko, noted that the inability of the federal government, through the NTDC, to classify hotels and tourist sites have opened doors for robbery, theft and making undue profits on false pretence.
“The absence of classification creates a lot of distortion in the environment. The NTDC was supposed to classify hotels after registration. But the Lagos State Govenment had successfully pursued a case that posits that the NTDC cannot register hotels or tourist sites in the states at the Supreme Court. This suit automatically takes away the powers that the NTDC have over regulations. If you are not my regulator, you cannot classify me, so I don’t see how it could be done and it’s not the best thing to do state by state classification because it’s a shambolic method of organising or doing things.
“Classification of hotels helps to create standard. If you tell me this is a 5-star hotel and I am paying $200; I know that I am paying for the product but when you don’t classify hotels, you will see all kinds of shabby hotels touting themselves as 5-star hotels and charging exhorbitant prices. Its simply theft, robbery or making undue profits on false pretences. So one of the major reasons we need to classify hotels is to set standard and help the industry grow,” Uko said.
He noted that the sector lacked the requisite leadership despite the increasing number of 5-star hotels and awareness about tourism. He also enjoined the federal government, through the National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM), to negotiate with foreign museums and institutions holding onto Nigeria artefacts with a view to possibly get them back.
The national president of the Institute for Tourism Professionals (ITP), Chief Abiodun Odunsanwo, submitted that the regulation of tourism was the prerogative of the state government, adding that the essence of classifying hotels and tourist sites was to ensure quality and sell ideas to investors on the type of services available.
“The Supreme Court judgement of July 19, 2014, between the Federal government, NTDC and Lagos State Government that the regulation of the tourism sector was the prerogative of the state government was very clear. Within the ambience of that pronouncement, it remains the prerogative of the state government to actually regulate and direct tourism in their domain. However, there is the need for national standard across the state. For instance, if you have a 3-star hotel in Kaduna or Niger State, the quality and ratings should be the same so that people will know the type of services they are paying for,” Odunsanwo.
Reacting, the minister of tourism, culture and national orientation, Edem Duke, argued that the classification of hotels and tourist sites requires the collective responsibility of Nigerians since the assets are located within the states.
“The classification of hotels and tourist sites requires a collective responsibility of each and every one of us. Very many of these assets are located within states and it’s important for us to collaborate with these states in classifying these resorts as well as in identifying the quality standard.