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Delta State – Hospitality, the New Crude Oil

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waterpark in Delta state

Anthony Elikene

The hospitality sector is gradually becoming the mainstay of many economies in the world and from the looks of it, it might also become the economic pillar of oil-rich economies such as Nigeria.

There are many states in the country that can effectively run-on revenue generated from hospitality. Delta State is one of such states.

With an estimation of over 4,112,445 people, a close gender balance of 2,069,309, male, and 2,043,136, female population, Delta State is considered one of the most endowed in Nigeria.

Known as The Big Heart but the real popularity of the state comes from its being an oil-producing state in the Niger-Delta region.

In the latest data on 13 per cent derivation sharing, Delta State ranked first with 31 per cent of N94.4 billion from a total of N302.8 billion, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) 2019 report.

But with the instability of global pricing for crude, it becomes imperative for the state and in extension, the country, to start ‘making hay while the sun shines’ in other lucrative sectors to weather future instabilities in the oil sector.

Fortunately, Delta State is also famous for its richness in diverse cultures and agricultural prowess. These alternative potentials can become the state’s economic mainstay if developed, especially as the hospitality sector.

According to travelnews.online, an online travel magazine, “Nigeria has over 11,000 hotels” and a considerable amount of these hotels are in Delta State. The accommodation sector alone is estimated to employ over 2 million direct and about a million indirect jobs in Nigeria.

The National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA) between January 2013 and January 2014 generated N197,599,911,988, which is about 80 per cent of all international airlines ticket sales in the country.

With the commissioning of the Warri-Itakpe railway line that runs through Agbor, connecting three states: Delta, Kogi, and Edo States, eventually, it will also connect the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Delta State should brace up for the flood of private sector development that is expected to overrun the state.

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The rail line alone has projected an annual commuter figure of about one million people. This means more people will make stopovers at different locations and sales are expected to rise at such locations.

In a publication on the African Travel and Tourism Association (ATTA) website, Executive Director, West Africa, BON Hotels, Paul Umoh, said: “In 2017, tourism statistics reflected a growth of 140.2 per cent from 2016. And from 2015 to 2016, 130.3 per cent the increase was seen. Two years prior, the statistics were in decline. Now, however, more people are visiting the country for business and leisure, and investors are seeing the increased potential in the region.”

“The hospitality industry in Nigeria has predominantly been concentrated in larger cities such as Lagos and Abuja. By expanding into smaller cities across multiple regions, we will dramatically increase the potential for business and leisure travel throughout the country,” explains Umoh. In 2016 BON Hotel acquired the Protea Hotel in Delta State.

Delta State also plays host to the largest waterpark in West Africa, Park Vega Waterpark, located in Agbor. The rest of the tourism world has gone far ahead as many in Nigeria still wonder what the waterpark is in 2020.

Quoting from a 2015 report conducted by the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA), the waterpark was defined as a facility with “at least four of the following attractions considered essential to a waterpark such as toddlers’/children’s play area, tube slide, lazy river, body flume, wave pool, tipping bucket play area, speed slide, family raft slide, mat racer slide, spray ground, still-water lagoon pool, action river, water coaster or a surfing simulator.

Designed for family and friends, couples and individual, to bond, Park Vega Waterpark attends to the young and the young at heart as they experience wow moments and create memories that last a lifetime together.

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The park is a fun place to go as a family with several facilities that thrills the kids, toddlers, teenagers, and adults such as Space hole slide, Multi-surf slide, Freefall slide, Blackhole slide, Aquatower, splash pad, Attraction pool, relax pool that has a bar, and a restaurant that serves delicious food.

How Can Delta State Benefit from a Waterpark Located in the State?

When residents of other states visit the park in Delta State, it would be a net gain for Delta but a net loss for the other states who had people leaving to visit Delta. But it would be gainful for Nigeria as the taxes and trade inspired by the park are still within the country.

This is why the federal government and Delta State government should encourage such investments in the hospitality sector that has a rippling effect by offering tax rebates and holidays just like other countries that operate waterparks.

In the United States, Kentucky offers eligible tourist attractions sales rebates up to 25 per cent. The state understands some tourists may not have visited the state if it was not for the waterpark.

The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions said in 2011 nearly 30,000 attractions in the United States generated $211 billion in economic activity. America’s local and regional public park agencies generated nearly $140 billion in economic activity and supported almost 1 million jobs from their operations and capital spending alone in 2013.

Studies have revealed that residents prefer to live in proximity to a park. The National Association of Home Builders says the presence of parks influences 65 per cent of homebuyers. Another study in 2001 by the National Association of Realtors found that 50 per cent of survey respondents were more likely to choose a neighbourhood near parks and are willing to pay more to be located close to a park.

Generation of new jobs – The state can benefit immensely as waterparks are known worldwide to create a lot of direct and indirect jobs wherever they are located.

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Development of infrastructure – Research has shown that infrastructural development around waterparks is very fast as everyone wants to key into the business buzz created by the waterpark.

Improve the image of the destination – Normally unknown locations gets on the map the moment a waterpark is built in the area. Because waterparks are usually constructed in places considered as outskirts for reasons such as space, low traffic, easy access, and others, the waterpark tends to add reputational value to the location.

Increase tourism – Waterparks have been known to benefit tourists’ businesses such as hotel, entertainment, lounges, restaurants amongst others. This helps the local communities and the state, in the long run, to grow its tourist potentials using the waterpark as a platform.

Economic benefits for having a waterpark in Delta state

There will be more business transactions in the surrounding communities as they cash into the bee-hive of activities created. This will eventually transcend to more revenue being generated by the local government and the state government.

Transport Sector – The aviation industry, the new rail line that has just been commissioned by the Federal Government in Delta State and surrounding states, the road transporters are all expected to benefit from the window of an opportunity opened by the waterpark located in Delta State.

Political scorecard – Waterpark is a major capital-intensive project and a great scorecard used by politicians to highlight infrastructural achievements. In The United States alone, there are over one thousand waterparks, each attracting its infrastructural development, and influencing positive reputation to grow the location they operate.

The state government benefits from these developments and only need to create the favourable climate for waterparks to thrive.

Delta State is blessed with several locations that can be developed to become a major tourist and hospitality venue capable of attracting guests from within and outside the country.

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Travel/Tourism

Wakanow Unveils Outlet in Lekki to Meet Customers’ Travel Needs

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Wakanow Travel Needs

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

In order to meet the rising travel needs of its customers, Africa’s largest online travel agency, Wakanow, has launched an experience centre in the Lekki area of Lagos State.

The outlet is located in Jubilee Mall on Admiralty Way and it will deliver an unparalleled immersive travel experience in a warm and relaxing atmosphere to customers.

“Wakanow is an online travel agency also with extensive offline presence with over 30 travel centres across Nigeria, Ghana and Dubai.

“We meet our customers’ travel needs across multiple touchpoints, wherever they are. We continue to expand our product portfolio& service offering as we aim to be their indispensable and trusted travel companion exciting them with travel deals, packages, and services that are unobtainable elsewhere,” the Chief Commercial Officer of Wakanow, Mrs Adenike Macaulay.

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In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic dealt a devastating blow on the travel industry as people were not allowed to move around as they used to. The sector was practically paused.

However, Wakanow was able to scale through the storm due to the hybrid model of being an offline and online agency and this was further solidified by the massive investment it has made in technology over the years, enabling business sustainability through the pandemic.

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During this same period, Wakanow was the only travel agency running 24/7 customer service centre operations which enabled it to take care of teeming customers during the upheaval in flight operations.

“Wakanow was able to weather the pandemic storm due to its innovative approach in the development of new complementary products and the unwavering commitment of the staff to the customer which has paid off hugely in customer retention and service uptake in the wake of travel restrictions,” the CEO of the firm, Mr Bayo Adedeji, said.

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But 2021 has seen the resurgence of interest and demand in travel, with airlines steadily increasing capacity offered to Nigeria and even the launch of new domestic and international airlines.

Wakanow said it’s positioned to continue supporting its customers across all channels with their travel needs as travel demand resurges.

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Travel/Tourism

Transcorp’s Aura Will Help Develop Domestic Tourism—Osinbajo

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Aura by Transcorp

By Dipo Olowookere

The decision of the management of Transcorp Hotels Plc to design a digital platform called Aura has been applauded by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

At the launch of the app on Thursday in Abuja, Mr Osinbajo said the initiative will help revive Nigeria’s hospitality industry in general, especially in the aftermath of the COVID-19 global pandemic as it will provide a major avenue for other small businesses in the value chain to grow.

“This is an excellent innovation, a service that leverages smoothly on technology and one that will be a tremendous boost to the hospitality industry as a whole.

“And because I have checked it out myself, I can say that my Aura experience has been quite good,” the Vice President said as he eulogised the team led by the Chairman of Transcorp Hotels, Mr Tony Elumelu; the Group CEO of Transcorp, Mrs Owen Omogiafo; and the CEO of Transcorp Hotels, Mrs Dupe Olusola; for designing such digital platform at this time.

Mr Osinbajo noted that the Aura app was designed to connect people to quality accommodation, great food, and awesome experiences in several places.

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“Yes, there are a number of digital hospitality platforms already, but I think the unique offering here is that Transcorp, possibly Nigeria’s foremost luxury hotel, is putting its huge reputation behind the service of helping customers choose the best accommodation restaurants, and experience tours available in Nigeria. The advantages of this service are varied.

“First, the customer can rely on the experience and judgment of world-class personnel at Transcorp in choosing hotels and restaurants.

“Second, Transcorp helps to build other smaller hospitality businesses, and even those simply offering their apartments simply as short-let apartments, by recommending their accommodation to potential guests.

“A Transcorp recommendation is more or less an accreditation that the accommodation or other hospitality service meets the high standards for which Transcorp is known. This is great all around and will help revive the hospitality industry, especially since the downturn in the aftermath of COVID-19,” he said.

The Vice President added that he found the app easy to navigate, with a copious offering of hotels, short-let apartments, experience tours.

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“They lure you into it by showing you a photo of an incredibly mouth-watering meal, and I saw a few that almost convinced me to break my fast early.

“So, there was an amazing looking Chicken Cheese Pizza from Barnyard lounge in Asaba, some irresistible chicken meal – a 5-star chicken – from Platino in Lagos, and some ‘carry go suya’ spice prawns at 355 here in Abuja. So, from the photo of the meal that takes you to the restaurant itself, you have booking options, dine-in, pick up or delivery,” he added.

Mr Osinbajo noted that, “I think the feature many especially property owners will find most fascinating is the host feature; as this enables you to put up your own property. And there are terms and conditions you need to meet for your property to be accepted. Same for whatever other entertainment facility you may wish to put out there for letting.”

In her remarks, Mrs Olusola agreed with the position of the Vice President on the capability of the initiative to support the development of the domestic tourism industry.

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“Aura is a digital hospitality platform that gives the opportunity to all our stakeholders and guests to actually be able to book accommodation and experiences just at their fingertips.

Aura is an opportunity for us to diversify our economy, an opportunity to create jobs and employment, and to develop domestic tourism and leisure travel,” she said.

The launch of Aura was also witnessed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila; the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami; the Minister of Labour and Employment, Mr Chris Ngige; the Deputy Chief of Staff to the President, Mr Ade Ipaye; among other dignitaries.

The event featured delectable Nigerian cuisine, video presentations and live performances by leading Nigerian artistes and celebrities, including Tiwa Savage.

Business Post reports that since its launch on Thursday, the Aura by Transcorp app has recorded over 1,000 downloads on the Google Playstore.

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Travel/Tourism

France to Develop Tourism in Oyo

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Develop Tourism in Oyo

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

The French government is looking to develop tourism in Oyo State and it has already taken a step towards achieving this goal.

Last weekend, the French Embassy was in the South-Western state of Nigeria to have talks with the government on how to go about this.

During a visit to the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism in Oyo State, the leader of the French delegation, Dr Vincent Hiribarren, said the country was determined to engage with Oyo State and seek ways to explore its tourism potentials in different archaeological and historical sites.

“Currently, France is seeking to help the Oyo State government to document its tourism potentials. This is the first working visit to the state’s tourism sites,” he said.

“The field visit to potential archaeological sites in Oyo State would afford us the opportunity to assess them, with the aim of developing an archaeological project,” he added.

The state government took the visiting team to a tourist site, Ado-Awaye Hill. They also toured studios and archives of the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism with the aim of developing a project on digitalisation of archival materials and training of personnel.

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Mr Hiribarren, who was excited, also promised the French government’s support to Oyo State in ensuring the full digitisation of its archaeological documents, archival materials and cultural heritage.

The team, thereafter, met the management of the Ministry to deliberate on possible projects to be developed based on the assessments made.

The French delegation added that the relics put up for consideration include Idere Relics, Kunrunmi Relics, Iyake Suspended Lake Ado Awaye & Aso Ofi centre, Iseyin (home of weavers).

“This official visit to the state is marked with a trip to the famous Ado-Awaye hill where we discovered big tourism potentials such as the Iya’ke suspended lake, the Iya’laro lake and an ancient cave,” the leader said.

Mr Hiribarren, who heads the French Institute for Research in Africa, promised the French Government’s support to ensure Ado-Awaye among other tourist sites in the State are enlisted on the UNESCO recommendation for tourism, which he noted will consummate the state’s economic diplomacy upgrade.

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“We will ensure this is established as part of UNESCO tourism sites, such that it will influence tourists and improve the rating and cultural heritage of the community,” he said, adding that the visit was an attempt to build on the priorities set by the French Government, saying it was also a sign of Paris’ “willingness to change the narrative of the relations between the State and France.”

“We are working for a new, more sustainable, fairer way to support the tourism potentials in Oyo State. We want to find ways to partner with Oyo State on tourism to create more jobs, and to create more economic growth,” he added.

Speaking earlier, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, Dr ‘Bunmi Babalola appreciated the French Government for the visit, which he noted will increase the volume of economic impact on the people of Ado-Awaye.

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He also promised the state government’s full support to prioritize the tourism sector, which will, in turn, expand the State’s economy.

The Alado of Ado-Awaye, Oba Sunday Oladapo Oyediran, said the community has waited long for the realisation of this age-long dream.

Noting that the community hosts the only natural suspended lake in the African continent, the Monarch added that the development will not only enhance tourism potentials in the state but curb criminality and other vices.

The French Embassy Mission included Professor Gerard Chouin (Williams & Mary USA), Dr Vincent Hiribarren (Director IFRA Nigeria), Ms Lea ROTH (Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne), Prof. R. A. Alabi (Head of Department of Archaeology UI), Joseph Ayodokun (Department of Archaeology UI and Field officer of IFRA Nigeria’s Archaeological Projects) and Patrick Babalola (Archivist, IFRA Nigeria).

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