Hotelier counts losses as COVID-19 threatens workers retention

By Ebere Chibuzor

Hotel owners and investors in Nigeria are reportedly battling with the frustration of surviving the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic since its outbreak in March. Many are count their losses while muting the idea of relieving most of their workers to keep afloat.

They lament that hotel patronage has dropped to a record low thereby affecting their earnings. Owners of some tourism establishments are seeking means of keeping their businesses going while retaining their staff as the pandemic dealt a huge blow on them.

One of the operators, General Manager, Britannia Hotel and Suites, Lagos, Blessing Clifford, told The Nation that hotel business in Nigeria,  especially in the cities, has suffered  tremendously. She urged government at all levels to come to the aid of investors by offering them tax break and other major incentives so that they can sustain their businesses.

She expressed worry over government officials’ attitudes towards tax collection from hotel operators. She noted that since patronage has dropped significantly, the government at all levels need to show some sympathy towards operators.

According to Clifford, such development would support hoteliers to remain afloat in this difficult time. She specifically charged the government to reduce Consumption Tax and Value Added Tax (VAT) so as to enable the sector retain sizable number of workers. This, she said, is the responsibility of the government to offer tax rebate and palliatives to the private sector at a period of global pandemic; she disclosed that her background as a scientist gave her an edge over other competitors. She said: “As soon as the management team got hint about the arrival of COVID-19 pandemic in the country, we quickly shutdown the hotel even before instruction from the Lagos State government on closing business establishment within the state. We were fast about doing the needful in order not to expose our guests  to the pandemic.

“We observed  and still observing all  precautionary measures as directed by the government. As it currently stands, we are doing rooms  spacing. This is how it works, among the 31 rooms, we intentionally do not use the whole 31 rooms due to  the love  for our guests and  we  do not want them to be exposed to the virus, every staff was taken to the government approved test centres and were certified safe,  they were employed and we deployed them to various departments.”

Speaking about factors that make Britannia Hotel a delight, Clifford  said: “Britannia hotel offers  wide range of  services such as laundering, internet, sight-seeing and also have facilities like VIP bar, bush bar, restaurant as well.

“With its serene environment in Ajao Estate, Lagos, our hotel uniquely offers in-house guests and fun seekers touch of home away from home services.

We train and retrain our staff. And in Britannia we do not joke with our staff welfare. “Security is paramount and we have both internal and external security and so there is zero tolerance for any form of crime or criminality.”

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