Delta State – Hospitality, the New Crude Oil
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.
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.
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.
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.
Emirates Forward Bookings Remain Robust on Strong Customer Demand
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The Chief Commercial Officer of Emirates, Mr Adnan Kazim, has said the airline’s forward bookings have remained robust amid a strong customer demand, spurring the company to ramp up its operations across continents.
According to him, in the past months, the airline has planned and executed the rapid growth of its network operations, reintroducing services to five cities, launching flights to one new destination (Tel Aviv), and adding 251 weekly flights onto existing routes and continuing the roll-out of service enhancements in the air and on the ground.
It was disclosed that Emirates has continued to scale up its A380 operations with the reintroduction of the iconic double-decker across its network: Glasgow (from 26 March), Casablanca from (15 April), Beijing (from 01 May), Shanghai (from 04 June), Nice (from 1 June), Birmingham (from 1 July), Kuala Lumpur (from 01 August), and Taipei (from 01 August).
“Emirates is working hard on several fronts – to bring back operating capacity as quickly as the ecosystem can manage while also upgrading our fleet and product to ensure our customers always enjoy the best possible Emirates experience.
“So far, four of our A380 aircraft have been completely refurbished with our new cabin interiors and Premium Economy seats, and more will enter service as our $2 billion cabin and service enhancement program picks up pace,” Mr Kazim added.
He noted that in the coming months, established routes to Europe, Australia and Africa would be served with more Emirates flights, while in East Asia, more cities are seeing route restarts.
Emirates had upcoming route enhancements by regions, including in Europe, Australia and New Zealand, East Asia, as well as in Africa which covers Cairo: from 25 to 28 weekly flights by 29 October; Dar es Salaam: from 5 flights a week to daily flights starting 01 May and Entebbe: from 6 flights a week to daily flights starting 01 July.
Mozambique Okays Visa Exemption for 28 Countries, Snubs Nigeria
By Kestér Kenn Klomegâh
A number of African countries are focusing on promoting extensively inbound tourism. They are luring potential external investors to the tourism industry.
The latest in the southern African region is Mozambique, which has approved a visa exemption for 28 countries for tourism and business.
As the Council of Ministers approved the decree in mid-March, the exemption applies to visitors holding ordinary passports and allows for a 30-day stay, renewable to an additional 60 days.
The model adopted by the Mozambican government is similar to the United States visa waiver program in the sense that it requires travellers to register on a platform for pre-screening at least 48 hours before travelling and to pay a processing fee of MZN-650 (equivalent £8.50).
In the list released, Nigeria, which prides itself as the giant of Africa and the largest economy on the continent, was missing.
The approved countries for this programme are Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Ivory Coast, Japan, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The visa exemption is a follow-up to the launch of a platform last December that allowed prospective visitors to apply for an electronic pre-authorization to travel into the country. The introduction of e-visas has seen an increase of over 30 per cent in the number of travellers entering the country compared to the same period in the previous year.
The e-visa platform commits the country to respond to applications within five days, but general feedback places an average response at 24 hours, and the few issues reported are usually created by users not uploading the required documentation.
President Filipe Jacinto Nyusi, since August 2022, has taken steps containing 20 reform measures aimed at delivering to visitors and potential investors a path for a more competitive and more accessible country. Mozambique, with an approximate population of 30 million, is one of the 16-member Southern African Development Community.
Foreign Airlines Unable to Repatriate $743.7m from Nigeria
By Adedapo Adesanya
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has said that foreign airlines’ blocked funds in Nigeria have risen to over $743.7 million.
In a letter dated March 14, 2023, and signed by the Area Manager for West and Central Africa, Dr Samson Fatokun, it was disclosed that the blocked funds rose from $549 million in December 2022 and $662 million in January to $743.7 million.
IATA noted that for over a year, Nigeria had been the country with the highest amount of airlines’ blocked funds in the world.
According to the association, the increasing backlog of international airlines’ blocked funds in Nigeria is a potential threat to foreign direct investment into the country and could affect the operations of airlines leading to job losses.
While appealing to the Minister of Aviation, Mr Hadi Sirika, to intervene in resolving the issues, the association also called on President Muhammadu Buhari to clear all airlines blocked funds before leaving office.
Meanwhile, at a meeting with the IATA and foreign airlines operators in Abuja to discuss the issues, Mr Sirika said the issue of blocked funds sits with the Central Bank of Nigeria and is not what the ministry can handle alone.
He urged international airline operators to be very considerate when dealing with the issues bearing in mind the effects of COVID-19 and the recession the country had experienced.
Recall that in August 2022, IATA’s Regional Vice-President for Africa and the Middle East, Mr Kamil Alawahdi, expressed his disappointment with Nigeria over the amount of airline money blocked from repatriation by the Nigerian government, which was around $464 million then.
“IATA is disappointed that the amount of airline money blocked from repatriation by the Nigerian government grew to $464 million in July.
“This is airline money, and its repatriation is protected by international agreements in which Nigeria participates. IATA’s many warnings that failure to restore timely repatriation will hurt Nigeria with reduced air connectivity are proving true with the withdrawal of Emirates from the market,” he said.
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