Hoteliers in South-West under the auspices of Hoteliers Association of Nigeria converged on the historic city of Badagry, to chart a course for the tourism industry in Nigeria. The Four days conference which started on Monday October 9, ended on Thursday October 12.
the event with the theme ” The Emerging Market Trends in Tourism and Hospitality Sector of the Nigerian Economy” took place at the Administrative Staff College of Nigeria (ASCON) Complex , Topo, Badagry, Lagos state.
The Conference which was the second edition is sequel to the maiden edition held in 2015, in Abeokuta, Ogun State, was attended by delegates from Lagos, Oyo, Ogun, Osun, Ekiti and Ondo States.
In his address, Chief Jerome Adoroh, President, Hoteliers Association of Nigeria, South West Zone, expressed disappointment at the attitudes of the Nigerian Government towards the development of the tourism sector. He noted that none of the Governors who were invited to the conference as guests deemed it fit to attend or send representatives, adding that their actions shows the level of priority given to tourism sector.
He further noted that the association with about 70,000 corporate members came into existence over four years ago to serve as a strong and reliable body through which voices of hoteliers and stakeholders could be heard. He promised that the association would do all it can to protect and champion the course of the hospitality industry despite governments’ lack of respect for the sector.
Recognising the integral roles played by the tourism sector on the Nigerian economy, Jerome noted that the operators of hotel business in the country have demonstrated resilient despite the turbulent economic challenges faced by the country.
According to him, the sector as one of the world’s largest employer of labour, has brought development and growth to both urban and rural areas, adding that this significant role has had multiplier effects on other sector of the economy.
Jerome said, ” As a responsible corporate citizens of the country, we believe that revenue generation by the government through taxation is a veritable source of economic growth, thus our resolve to perform our civic duties. However, in doing this, our tax obligation is not supposed to be a peril to sustainability of our businesses.
“The sector over the years has been plagued with erratic power supply, lack and shortage of skilled workers, multiple taxation, cowboy tactics and antics of officials of different organs and department, some of which has gone to further cause untold pains and hardship on operators of the industry,” Joreme said.
He however charged the government and National Assembly to reexamine the tax administration in Nigeria, particularly on how it has negatively affected the tourism and hospitality industry. He further urged the Federal Government to do all it can to work on harmonising the tax system, adding that the burden is heavy on the operators amidst lack of basic social infrastructure.
Prince Femi Egbodofo, Deputy President of the Association, noted that hoteliers’ role as an employers of labour , needs to the attention of the government. We are the one creating means of livelihood to Nigerian, as due to this responsibility. The bills and taxes being leveled on us in daunting and have the capacity to ground the hospitality sector.
He said, “Recently the Federal Government promulgated a law that says 15 percent should be paid on rooms and foods used by our clients, the same government is still receiving money over the same conditions. This to us is double taxation which cannot continue. About 18 different taxes and levies are being paid to the government in some states in the South West. Everyday more are springing up.
“Hoteliers are not getting basic encouragement; we are the ones providing the roads, electricity and other social service. This are things that are ordinarily should have been done by the government.
“We are ready to pay taxes that are reasonable and affordable by us but not to be enslaved. Happy most of the operators of the industry are educated people including retirees who are reasonable enough to know that they deserve to pay the taxes, we believe something is wrong. Using the platform of the conference to appeal to the government to listen to the plights of the hoteliers, the Deputy President noted.
Speaking on the benefit of the conference, Egbodofo disclosed that majority of hoteliers in the country invested into the hotel business without prerequisite knowledge of the hospitality industry. He added that the conference is expected to serve as a veritable platform to guide them through basic knowledge and education required in fixing the day to day challenges facing the industry.
He further added that hotel business is a 24 hours industry which requires great attention. He revealed that conference and workshop serves as opportunity to develop managerial capacity and to enhance productivity. He stated that the four days conference give the members the opportunity to explore new development within the sector.
He said, “The government must demonstrate commitment to harmonise the multiple taxation and eradicate unnecessary levies and taxes being imposed on hoteliers. We also appeal to them to ban the use of consultants in the collection of taxes. As association, we are ready to work with the government officials to enforce the fulfillment of tax obligations by hoteliers, but government should be ready to harmonise all the various taxes and levies,” Egbodofo said.
Dr. Dapo Olaleye, the secretary of the association, noted that he diversified from the medical sector into the hospitality industry due to his passion for the sector. He added that he ventured into the business because of the need for a life full of varieties, but the tax burden imposed on hoteliers has proven to be a major challenge facing the sector.
He added that tourism sector is placed under the supervision of politicians who really do not understand what is required to turn the sectors around. According to him some of these administrators make unfriendly policies capable of completely wiping out the gains of the sector to the country.
“Government officials have created so many problems for the hospitality sector, such that the hotels that cater for the welfare of both local and international tourists in being plagued with unfriendly and harsh government policies.
“It is sad that majority of investors in hotel business are pensioners and retired workers who are now over burdened with huge tax. Tax administrators have turned themselves into tin-Gods to frustrate those people who have divested all they have labour into the tourism sector.
The General Secretary revealed that Nigerian hospitality industry needs President and Governors who understand the economic benefits of tourism sector. He added that until the right people who understand the potential of the sector are placed in the position of authority, the tourism sector will probably not witness remarkable growths.
Speaking on the theme of the conference at the Day 1, Mr. Muda Yusuf, Director- General, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, charged the hoteliers to take advantage of the technological revolutions in the business sector to upgrade their operations. He also charged them to partner with the media in order to project their hospitality brands to the global community.
At the Panel Session on Day three, anchored by Mr. Muyiwa Matuluko, a tax commentator, featured representatives of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), and Prince Thomas Olofin, an Accountant and Chartered Tax Practitioner.
During the session, hoteliers were charged to cultivate the habit of keeping financial records as a means of reducing tax liabilities. The panelist affirmed that hoteliers pay more taxes and levies when services of qualified accountants are not employed.
According to Prince Olofin, excess tax charged on hotels by tax administrators often does not commensurate with the actual sales or turnover of the hotels. He charged the owners of hotels in the country to employ competence accountant and keep financial records to avoid double taxation. He however appealed to the government – state and federal- to reduce hoteliers tax burden in order to encourage them to pay.
Mr. Layi Abidoye, in another plenary session presented paper on “Productivity improvement in the time of recession in Nigeria” charged hoteliers to priotise and isolates business opportunities that have the highest probability of resulting in sales and improved profits.
The Association however honours Chief (Mrs) Folashade Tinubu-Ojo, as the Grand Matron of the Association.
Meanwhile, His Royal Majesty, De Wheno Aholu Menu Toyi 1, Akran of Badagry Kingdom, who was present at the conference, also received the executive of the association at his palace.
Speaking on the uniqueness of Badagry city to the economy of Nigeria, the monarch noted that the city is home to the biggest land port in Nigeria, and will soon be the home of the biggest sea port in Africa.
He added that the Badagry community is now one of the oil producing communities in Nigeria. According to him, the choice of Badagry as the host of the hoteliers’ Conference reaffirms the community’s role as the grandeur of aquatic tourism in Africa.
On the third day of the conference hoteliers embarked on a tour of some of the historic sites spread across the community. Some of the places visited include, the first storey building in Nigeria, the Badagry heritage museum, slave route (Badagry Marina port), Seriki Abass Brazillian barracoon and the site of the early Christian missionaries cemetery that houses the mass burial of over 250 foreign missionaries who died of malaria and other ecological diseases.