The Federal Government may have approved a N300 billion intervention fund for the rebuilding of the hotel and leisure sub-sector to international standards, a sector seen as crucial in fast- tracking the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP).
The vice president of the Nigerian Hotel Association (South-South), Rex Yakpogoro, who dropped the hint in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, said the association had made a case for N500 billion but after extensive deliberations with the Federal Government secured approval for N300 billion. He said the papers had been handed down to the Ministry of Finance for further action.
The vice president spoke at the inauguration of the Rivers State chapter of the association, a feat that had remained elusive over the years until now that the present leadership of the Port Harcourt Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (PHCCIMA) made strenuous efforts to make it a reality. The event took place at the Hotel Presidential in the garden city.
In his keynote address intended to fire up the 25 member-hotels out of a possible 5000 (believed to operate in the state) that showed up at the inauguration, Yakpogoro said the intervention fund would form a drawdown that would not attract interests for the first three years. He said the interest thereafter would be six percent per annum.
The hotelier, who is the deputy managing director of Hotel Presidential, said, “The intervention fund would help hotels to develop long-term facilities and pursue international standards in service delivery”.
He said the need had come for the hotel and leisure sub-sector to receive a boost so as to use it to boost tourism in Nigeria and grow the nation’s GDP as was the case in most other nations. Britain, he said, holds over $80 billion value in tourism, Spain $70 billion and South Africa $71, billion, etc, by 2010 assessment. “Tourism in India is the largest service industry with a contribution of 6.23 percent to national GDP and 8.75 percent of total employment”.
To show what Nigeria is capable of generating through the hotel industry, Yakpogoro said India was currently generating over $238 billion and is projected to hit $375 billion by 2018 at 9.4 percent annual growth rate, adding that tourism generates the second largest job opportunities in Kenya.