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Hospitality & Travel

As Hotels resume operations, how prepared are they?

With the resumption of commercial activities, patronage has resumed in the hotels.

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Probe: Auditors submit report on Ikeja Hotel’s financial operations

It was a sunny afternoon when I walked into the Radisson Blu Hotel, Ikeja. Just as I got to the entrance of the hotel, the Janitor politely stopped me, asked me to drop my purse for scanning, and then checked my temperature with the hand-held thermometer.

Afterward, I had to submit myself to be disinfected. For about 30 seconds, I stood in front of a fan-like fumigator with my mask on, as it sprayed its contents all over me. That was not all, I still had to thoroughly sanitise my hands before I was allowed into the reception arena.

This is the situation in most hotels as you enter into the premises for any form of business or visit. There appears to be a consensus among them that they cannot afford a slip at this time, as the discovery of even one case in a hotel can cause it to be shut down for as long as the authorities deem it necessary.

READ MORE: This PwC report may inspire investors to buy up stocks in Nigerian hotels 

When the Federal Government shut the economy down in April, all businesses in Abuja, Lagos, and Ogun States were directed to cease operations, except for the essential services providers. For the purpose of the lockdown, essential service providers were limited to health workers and those in the food industry.

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Hotels, being in the hospitality sector, were not considered essential and were asked to shut down operations as well. Only a few were kept open, to be used as isolation centres in the efforts to contain the spread of the virus and keep infected patients. The adverse effects led to a drastic slide in revenue and subsequent loss of jobs in some cases.

When the government announced a gradual and phased reopening of the economy, hotels were still not included in the list of businesses allowed to open. After the second phase of the gradual reopening, hotels, and other businesses in the hospitality industry are already opening up while some have announced dates.

READ: Nigerian hotels count revenue losses due to pandemic-induced plunge

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With the lift of the ban, hotels across Lagos state have resumed operations, albeit with the highest regards for the guidelines spelt out by the relevant authorities and agencies.

Eko Hotel for instance has already re-opened operations, along with Raddison Blu (VI and Ikeja), Sheraton hotels Ikeja. The George Hotel (Ikoyi) is also opened for business.

Southern Sun hotels and Wheat baker hotels have slated its resumption for 1st September, while Intercontinental hotels and Federal Palace Hotel are yet to fix a date for resumption.

The question now is how prepared are they to deal with the influx that would follow their reopening, as well as the resumption of international flights.

READ: FG bars aides of VIPs from airport terminals, to grant loans to airlines, others at 5%

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Extra-Hygiene

One thing common to all the hotels visited is a visible improvement in hygiene practices. Though the hotels have always maintained clean premises, there are obvious efforts in place to slow down the spread of the COVID-19 infection, or at least ensure that it does not get spread through their premises.

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At the Radisson Blu hotel, for example, the hotel premises looked as though it had only been recently disinfected. In addition, the spray disinfectant used on all visitors to the hotel is targeted at ensuring that the highest hygiene standards are maintained.

The same was the case at Sheraton hotels, Citiheight hotels, Airport hotel, Watercross hotel, and Purple crown hotels. Nose masks are a compulsory requirement before one can be allowed into the premises.

Just as the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 have directed, all of the hotels have their janitors check visitors’ temperature, and flag down any that might be suggestive of a fever.

In addition, visitors also have to sanitize at the entrance and at the reception, disinfecting both hands and luggage before any staff handles them.

Dining services

Visits to the hotels showed that while some have resumed dining services, others are still making critical observations before they do.

Radisson blu hotel already has dining services ongoing. In the short time spent in the hotel, one could easily see that a table meant for 4 persons was not allowed to have more than 2 persons seated. Also once a table was occupied, the attendants tried to ensure that the next table was vacant.

About hosting a small gathering of 10 friends, the staffs showed us an enclosed space where we could have some privacy if we desired, but insisted that in line with the physical distancing directives, space (which I estimate to be about 10ft by 24ft) could not hold more than 6 persons.

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READ: COVID-19: Abuja Sheraton suffers 88% drop in revenues

We were instead offered the general dining room to use, on the condition that the tables would be spaced with not more than 2 on each table. How that arrangement amounts to a get-together is the question no one could answer.

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The same was the situation at Citiheight hotels which is only a short distance away. The hotel has started receiving dine-in guests in the dining room and the bar. When asked if they could make arrangements for a get-together of 10 persons, they offered to arrange some tables together, but with each of the seats surrounding the table adequately spaced.

For Sheraton hotels, however, dining is not yet allowed inside the restaurant. According to a staff who spoke to Nairametrics, the management is still making critical observations, before deciding whether it would be a profitable decision to resume operations in the restaurant or not.

Instead, the lounge and bar behind the hotel is being used so that customers can dine in an open space, where even the tables have been physically distanced, one from the other.

When we inquired if we could host a small get-together with 10 friends in the dining room, the staff declined to explain that giving the directives they now had to work with, they could not allow 10 persons in an enclosed space. They suggested instead that we use the lounge or the poolside where there would be sufficient space and ventilation.

Occupancy

With the resumption of commercial activities, patronage has resumed in the hotels. The hotels surveyed have started receiving guests for lodging, although skeletal.

Though none of them offered comments on it, they have not yet been booked to capacity. The staff however sounded hopeful that lodging activities would pick up in September.

Ruth Okwumbu has a MSc. and BSc. in Mass Communication from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and Delta state university respectively. Prior to her role as analyst at Nairametrics, she had a progressive six year writing career. As a Business Analyst with Narametrics, she focuses on profiles of top business executives, founders, startups and the drama surrounding their successes and challenges. You may contact her via [email protected]

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Hospitality & Travel

Arik, Dana Airlines to resume flight operations after curfew

Dana Air and Arik airlines to resume flight operations from Lagos airport tomorrow.

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Arik Air resumes flight schedules to Asaba after one-year break, Proposed Arik and Aero merger to form National carrier disapproved  

Dana Air and Arik airlines are set to resume flight operations from Lagos airport on Saturday, as the Lagos State government relaxed the 72-hour curfew imposed on the state.

The curfew was imposed by the State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Tuesday to forestall further breakdown of law and order, following series of EndSARS protests.

READ: SAHCO, Arik Air renew contract to boost services 

Communications Manager, Arik Air, Adebanji Ola, in a statement issued on Friday, explained that flights across the country would operate as scheduled, and passengers were advised to arrive at the airport early to have ample time to complete boarding formalities.

He said, “Customers who could not use their tickets during the period of the curfew can modify such tickets at no extra cost.

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READ: Local Airlines tell staff to forget April salary

“The management of Arik Air thanks customers for their understanding while the cancellation of flights lasted.”

Also, spokesperson for Dana Air, Mr Kingsley Ezenwa announced that the airline was pleased to inform its passengers that the company would resume full flight operations from Saturday, the 24th of October 2020.

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READ: Chinese automobile maker, GAC Motors to set up assembly plant in Lagos 

He said, “The tickets purchased for flights within the period of the curfew remains valid and can be rescheduled for free by sending an email to us.”

Back story: Nairametrics reported earlier on Friday that the Lagos State Government had eased the 72-hour curfew which was earlier imposed on Tuesday, October 2020, to run from 6 pm to 8 am.

READ: Lagos to support owners of looted, vandalised stores

This was disclosed by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Friday, October 23, during a press briefing at State House Marina, after a tour of the state to inspect the level of destruction of public and private infrastructure during the #EndSARS protests that later turned violent.

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This means residents can go out between 8 am and 6 pm, with effect from Saturday, October 24, 2020).

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Hospitality & Travel

Nigeria set to lose on latest Bilateral Air Service Agreements

Experts have explained why Nigeria is at the losing end of yet another Bilateral Air Space Agreement.

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Nigeria set to lose on latest Bilateral Air Service Agreements, United States announces changes to work permit visas that could affect Nigerians

It is no longer news that Nigeria signed Bilateral Air Service Agreements (BASA) with the United States, India, Morocco and Rwanda. However, who benefits more from the agreements has been a topical discussion amongst Nigerian stakeholders. Some of them, who spoke with Nairametrics in separate interviews, argued that the development would favour the partner countries more than Nigeria.

They argued that Nigeria has signed this deal with over 80 countries across the world, but has turned out to be disadvantageous to Nigeria. Most of the agreements are only beneficial to the countries and their foreign carriers, without any reciprocal benefits to Nigeria. This is allegedly due to the failure of the Nigerian representatives to put Nigeria’s interest first at the BASA negotiating table.

READ: CBN to sanction exporters who default on export proceed number

In most cases, Nigeria does not really benefit from the deal, especially with no National carrier or a domestic airline that has the required equipment to compete with their foreign counterparts.

Managing Director, Starburst Aviation Limited, Capt. David Olubadewo, who was once Nigeria’s youngest pilot, admitted that he has not seen the agreements. However, he told Nairametrics that the nation does not have the capacity/equipment to compete favourably with the countries it signed the deal with.

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READ: FG to inject over N198 billion on capital projects in power sector in 2021

Capt. Olubadewo said, “In most cases, BASA entails specific agreement between two partners, where parties involved will agree on exchange of flights. It could be 10 flights weekly from Country A and same from the other Country.

“So, if US for instance, has done 10 flights to Nigeria as agreed and Nigeria has not, it will not affect US in anyway.”

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In his own case, Muyiwa Lucas, another stakeholder in the industry, claimed that the aim of the international carriers and their countries is to make sure that indigenous carriers do not rise to compete with them on those lucrative routes like Lagos-London, Abuja-London, Lagos-Dubai, Lagos-Paris, Lagos-Amsterdam, and Lagos-Johannesburg.

READ: Nigeria, India to conclude Bilateral Air Services Agreement deal

In an interview with Nairametrics, he said that the partners are always quick to choose a favourable destination in Nigeria (Lagos and Abuja), while they dictate to Nigeria the airport to land its aircrafts in their countries.

Lucas said, “Nigerian flights are only allowed to drop passengers at Gatwick, which handled 46.1 million passengers in 2018. They don’t allow such in Heathrow airport, which is London’s main hub and also one of the world’s busiest airports with 80.1 million passengers in 2018.

“Arik Air was stopped from operating from Abuja to London, unless it paid for slot allocation, which cost a huge amount of money.

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READ: Nigeria, Ethiopia sign visa waiver agreement

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“But, while British Airways was and is still flying to Abuja, enjoying grandfather rights; Arik Air was paying for slots and when the Nigerian airline deemed that operation unprofitable, it stopped, leaving only British Airways to be operating to Abuja from London with minimum load factor of 85%.”

Lucas argued that while some of the countries introduced clauses to jeopardise Nigerian airlines operation to their countries, Nigeria rarely retaliated in the spirit of diplomatic principle of reciprocity.

READ: Just in: FG bars Air France, KLM and other foreign airlines

However, Pranjal Pande, an Indian Aviation Expert, sees the development from a different angle.

According to him, Nigeria is home to a substantial Indian expatriate population, and India sees thousands of yearly visitors from Nigeria but noted that the lack of direct flights has meant passengers fly mostly with Middle East carriers.

Pande said, “Popular routes from Delhi and Mumbai to Lagos are over 4,100 nautical miles, putting them out of the range of the current generation of narrowbody aircraft. This means that, from India, only Vistara and Air India, the only airlines with widebodies, could start flights to Nigeria. Neither airline has signalled intentions of doing so soon.

READ: Nigeria @ 60: The Aviation sector and its travails

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“It’s most likely that Air Peace will be the first to start flights to India. However, the timing remains up in the air due to the current crisis.”

Backstory: On October 6, 2020, Nairametrics reported that the Federal Government announced the signing of Bilateral Air Service Agreements (BASA) with the United States, India, Morocco and Rwanda.

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A copy of the agreement showed that it was signed in Abuja by President Muhammadu Buhari on September 30, 2020.

The disclosure was made by the Minister for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, through a tweet on his official Twitter handle on Tuesday, October 6, 2020.

What they are saying

The Minister said, “The agreement is the instruments of ratification of the bilateral air service agreement between Nigeria and USA, India, Morocco, as well as Rwanda.”

He added that Nigeria will take advantage of the agreement to strengthen economic, social and cultural ties with the US.

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Hospitality & Travel

Transport fare for motorcycle “Okada” more than doubled in 2020

Data from the NBS reveals the average fare paid by commuters for a journey by motorcycle more than doubled year on year.

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Transport fare for motorcycle "Okada" more than doubled in 2020, Lagos State bans Gokada, ORide, MaxNG, others from 15 local governments 

Data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reveals the average fare paid by commuters for a journey by motorcycle per drop more than doubled year on year (September 2020 vs 2019 respectively).

This was contained in the recently released data on Transport fare for September 2020 in Nigeria. This covers bus journey within the city per drop, bus journey intercity, state route, charge per person, airfare charge for specified routes single journey, journey by motorcycle (Okada) per drop, and waterway passenger transport.

READ: Nigeria’s manufacturing sector contracts for 5th consecutive month – CBN 

Motorcycle Fares

  • According to the report, the average fare paid by commuters for the journey by motorcycle per drop increased by 10.47% MOM and by 111.11% YOY to N255.51 in September 2020 from N231.29 in August 2020.
  • The states with the highest journey fare by motorcycle per drop were Niger (N1,467.49), Kogi (N362.47), and Rivers (N345.80); while states with the lowest journey fare by motorcycle per drop were Adamawa (N76.55), Katsina (N100.84), and Kebbi (N125.60).
  • Similarly, the average fare paid by commuters for bus journeys within the city increased by 7.92% MOM and by 63.88% YOY to N309.73 in September 2020 from N286.99 in August 2020.

READ: These 3 states are the most expensive to travel from in Nigeria

READ: NBS discloses States with highest bus fares in Nigeria (Full List)

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Bus Fares

The states with the highest bus journey fare within the city were Zamfara (N579.84), Bauchi (N492.14), and Cross River (N416.32); while states with the lowest bus journey fare within the city were Abia (N188.50), Kebbi (N192.48), and Borno (N200.80).

  • The average fare paid by commuters for bus journey intercity increased by 0.36% MOM and by 24.30% YOY to N2,022.70 in September 2020 from N2,015.50 in August 2020.
  • The states with the highest bus journey fare intercity were Abuja FCT (N4,315.22), Lagos (N3,073.25), and Sokoto (N3,000.00); while states with the lowest bus journey fare within the city were Kwara (N223.45), Benue (N274.64), and Ondo (N291.07).

Explore Data on the Nairametrics Research Website

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Air Travel

Average fare paid by air passengers for specified routes single journey decreased by -4.59% MOM and increased by 20.60% YOY to N36,884.59 in September 2020 from N38,659.86 in August 2020.

  • The states with the highest airfare were Lagos (N39,750.00), Rivers (N39,520.00), and Anambra (N38,950.00); while states with the lowest airfare were Akwa Ibom (N32,500.00), Sokoto (N33,700.00), and Benue (N35,000.00).
  • The average fare paid by passengers for waterway passenger transport increased by 7.06% MOM and by 34.13% YOY to N734.26 in September 2020 from N685.82 in August 2020.
  • The states with the highest fare by waterway passenger transport were Bayelsa (N2,250.23), Rivers (N2,200.64), and Delta (N2,150.30); while states with the lowest fare by waterway passenger transport were Borno (N200.48), Gombe (N264.29), and Abuja FCT (N294.10).

READ: Nigeria’s inflation rate hits 13.71% as food prices soar

What this means: According to the NBS, transportation makes up 6.4% of consumption expenditure of millions of naira next only to food at over 50%. Transport is also a key input cost for determining food prices and conducting business in the country contributing to the inflation rate. A combination of bad roads. poor infrastructure, exchange rate devaluation, removal of fuel subsidies, and a general rise in prices of goods and services have impacted transportation costs across the country.

 

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