Sunday, August 30, 2015

Hoteliers look forward to better business later this year – Loxley

By Jimoh Babatunde
THE hospitality sub sector of the tourism industry in Nigeria is hopeful that the second half of this year will be better because of the renewed hope in the country’s economy after the last general election. The hospitality sector had it so rough last year because of the Ebola and security issues that plagued the country as well as the heightened fear about the last elections in the country.

Speaking with Vanguard recently, the General manager, Southern Sun hotel, Ikoyi, Mark Loxley, hoteliers are optimistic in terms of the new government as people are looking forward to coming back to Nigeria, and that the economic drive outside the oil and gas is giving more hope.
While noting that it has been challenging starts this year because of delayed elections and the fall in oil price, Loxley said everybody is looking forward to strong economy climate.
He said the lesson last year’s experience of Ebola and security challenges taught him and others in the industry is that they can do better in attracting Nigerians to travel within the country as a way of supporting the industry when there is fall in foreign patronage.
“Last year was tough in terms of security and Ebola, what that has taught us is that we can do better to attract Nigerians during lean period to support our business when there is fall in foreign patronage .
He advised the larger tourism industry to support the agriculture industry in terms of getting their supplies from local farmers instead of importing, “the more we can buy locally, the more cost effective and support we give to local people. We can also entice people through domestic tourism development.”
Mark Loxley said looking at the fragile nature of the nation in terms of fuel scarcity, security, the factors impact and the impact on their business, he said security is paramount and the challenge is to operate in safe environment. While commending the Lagos state government for the way it handled the Ebola case in the state last year, he explained that security is a matter that applies to hotels anywhere in the world as shown by the unfortunate incident in Tunisia recently or that of Nairobi two years ago.
He explained that the realization of that fact made the hotel to pay attention to guests security and that they are happy working with the local police in the area they operate. Loxley added that the recent grading of hotels the Lagos state government is good for the industry as the grading will help in regulation of the industry in terms in operating in accordance with international standard as well as help in marketing.
He disclosed that Southern Sun Ikoyi Hotel has been graded a four star hotel and prayed that the grading continues with a proper grading council put in place by the government.
Loxley said with grading over, that the hotel will take stock of its business profile by raising the game to meet up with various marketing segments as well as seek new business. “We need to pay more attention to local events, sporting events and remain in alliance with sporting events in Lagos state as well as seek for more new business.”
Increase inoccupancy
He promised that the standards of the hotel will be maintained as the sector is becoming more competitive in Lagos state with more hotels springing up. “We are looking forward to a better occupancy rate in September. I think many states will be looking forward to attracting business and one way of doing that is increase in occupancy.”
Loxley added “We will continue to seek for new business, new market, we will continue to look for new people in the environment, Lagos is a resilient environment and we will continue to maintain and improve as individual has more choices of hotels now more than before.” Mark Loxley expressed confidence that with good location, excellent product and premium placed on staff training, the hotel will get its fair share of the Lagos market.
While hopeful of the business growth in the state , Loxley promised that the hotel is paying attention to training and re-training of its staff, “apart from refurbishing, training is corner-stone of any management philosophy; so, we are employing correctly and constantly training.
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Mark Loxley, Southern Sun Ikoyi Hotel’s GM with some guests at a cocktail in the hotel.
Mark Loxley, Southern Sun Ikoyi Hotel’s GM with some guests at a cocktail in the hotel. - See more at: