Africa: WIHN to drive growth of hospitality industry in Nigeria
Women In Hospitality Nigeria (WIHN), a group of vibrant women in the industry held its maiden seminar to address the hurdles faced by women in the sector.
Speaking at the seminar which took place at Eko Hotel and Suites in Lagos, President and Founder WIHN, Amaka Amatokwu-Ndekwu, said the WIHN has a mission to inspire and empower women in the country while promoting gender diversity and leadership in the hospitality industry.
Amaka who spoke on the theme: “Operating in the Nigerian Hospitality Industry: Challenges and Solutions”, stated that the core values of WIHN are accountability, encourage collaboration and partnership, emulate excellence, empower members, sustain integrity and inspire the younger generation to develop a career in the hospitality and tourism industry rather than view it as a means to solving their current unemployed status.
She said: “We also want to be seen as strong professional women passionate about unlocking our untapped potential with a determination to contribute to the growth and development of the hospitality industry in Nigeria and hopefully outside Nigeria.
“We intend to be change agents and be a voice against the victimisation and stigma on women working in the hospitality industry thereby creating a paradigm shift in the perception of women engaged in the hospitality and tourism industry. Most of our junior colleagues barely know how to handle these situations, which at best I would say are not just terrible but traumatic, they end up becoming victims of direct or indirect forms of sexual harassment which in turn gives the industry females an uncomfortable and deplorable image.
“We shall stand as one voice and one body to protect our women, advance their knowledge and encourage them attain leadership positions by providing platforms to achieve this whilst raising women with integrity possessing immense drive and passion to prosper and excel within the industry without resorting to compromise” she said.
Also, at the event, the Senior Special Adviser to Cross Rivers State Governor on Hospitality, Justina Ovat, while speaking on “Calabar, Its Value Chain in Tourism and Hospitality, said the state has evolved from being known for its food and women to be recognised as a state known for tourism and hospitality adding that it has become one of the foremost tourist destination in the country.
She stated that for the hospitality industry in the country to grow, there is a need for collaboration between the government and the private sector in order to drive the sector noting that without the synergy between both parties the industry might find it difficult to move forward.
“The private sector will always drive the hospitality and tourism sector but the government has the responsibility to provide the enabling environment for them. And in return the private sector must ensure that they pay their taxes for the government to improve on the facilities and even create more. That synergy must be there between the private sector and the government” she said.
Ovat added that “The hospitality industry is a very interesting industry it is an industry which possibilities abound, the possibilities are endless. Is it the food sector, accommodation sector or the amenities sector? There are a lot of sectors to go in this industry. So many hotels spring up everyday, most hotel owners do not even know what they are doing, so some people can go into management consultancy, some people an even go into training. You can be the one who supply amenities to these hotels. You can go into supplying of food, not all hotels must have a restaurant.
“And talking about Cross Rivers state, you know we are very vast in hospitality and tourism. For the ease of for access to our tour sites, the federal government and the state government are doing a lot regarding access roads, feeder roads into the tour sites. Most tour sites are way out of town. Like the Obudu Mountain Resort for instance is 6 hours from the Calabar metropolis, coupled with bad roads.
“But our governor is planning to introduce the Cally Air that can convey tourist into the state and to Obudu mountain resort. So with these possibilities people can come into the state by all means. Also we are dredging the sea port so all means into the state could be accessed,” She stated.
Also speaking at the event, CEO LAC Management Consultants, Christine Plaatjies noted that one of the core challenges of the hospitality sector is the service offered by to guests at hotels in the country.
She said every organisation has a service culture and should be inculcated in the staff in order to sustain efficient service delivery. She added staff attitude is one of the core obstacle preventing the organisation from achieving its financial goal.
Other speakers at the event include Director of Government Affairs, WIHN, Dr. Peju Afanu, CEO, Jumia, Omolara Adagunodo; Managing Director, Joblink Recruitment Agency, Mary Tokunbo Dinah.
By Friday Nwosu