Delta State Tourism Board, in partnership with Sustainable Eco6tems Limited, a Hospitality Communications and Consultancy company, organized a Delta State Hospitality Colloquium and Training for key stakeholders in the hospitality industry, which participants at the event lauded, as a much needed initiative in the collective effort towards entrenching and sustaining ‘new hospitality’ excellence, in the state.

The program, which took place on February 23, 2022, at NELROSE Hotel, Asaba, was conceived in line with the shared prosperity agenda of the Governor Ifeanyi Okowa administration, especially with the improved infrastructure, business landscape, growing Hospitality and tourism investment inflow into the Delta State, as well as enhanced security in the State. It’s core objective was to kick- start a new dispensation of Hospitality excellence in Delta state.

With the theme: “Delta State: New Hospitality; Shared Prosperity”, the colloquium brought hoteliers, managers, operations managers, policy makers and government officials together, to discuss the changing hospitality industry, service excellence and standards and the evolving expectations of guests, as well as that of the government, as they adjust and adapt to this emerging phase.

In his Keynote Speech, the Honourable Commissioner, Culture and Tourism, Engr. Lawrence Ejiofor commended the Tourism Board and Sustainable Eco6tems for the noble initiative and for pursuing good objectives that would benefit the state, even as he expressed satisfaction with the hospitality colloquium, especially as it was structured around building manpower for the sector.

According to him, Delta is on the verge of becoming a world class tourism destination, with quality tourism infrastructure developed by the state government, which would not only transform the state into a favoured destination for tourists and reference point for global tourism in the foreseeable future, but also serve as a major revenue source for successive administrations.

“In recent times, the present administration, in a bid to diversify the state’s economy from the mono Independence on Oil, the tourism and Hospitality Sector has been identified as the next Gold Mine. The state has embarked on massive development of infrastructures to boost the industry.

“One of such structures is the Legacy Projects comprising the Leisure Park, Film Village and the Lander Brothers Anchorage.

“The Leisure Park and Film Village – situated on a 44,500 sqm land along Anwai/Ugbolu Road which has state of the Art facility, has provisions for conferencing, Amphitheatre, Restaurants, Training School, Studio/Editing Suites, Hostel facility, Guest houses, shops, clinic, children’s playground, amongst others”, Ejiofor said.

Continuing, the Commissioner noted that, “with these projects in place, the massive turnaround and Human Traffic into the state which will in turn transform the economy, need not be over-emphasized.

“The need therefore, to train, retrain and prepare the workforce in the sector, particularly the Hospitality & Tourism Enterprises (HTEs), who are the first recipients of tourists (as you provide lodging and food), must be taken seriously. All hands must be on deck, not only to utilize the emerging dividend, but to also be prepared for the challenges therein to enhance the sector,” he declared.

The General Manager, Delta State Tourism Board, Mrs Josephine Ogbolu in her speech, welcomed all participants and reiterated the need for the training, adding that the imperative for industry operators to be constantly updated on emerging trends and be conversant with appropriate tools and knowledge on adapting adequately to the changes, was crucial to achieving hospitality excellence in the state.

She said: “as the theme, ‘New Hospitality, Shared Prosperity’ connotes, and with the new developing infrastructures that support the growth of the hospitality and tourism sector, more human traffic into the state and new hospitality establishments springing up, all hands must be on deck to improve, particularly in the area of security, hygiene, effective and efficient service delivery and human resource development.

“As practitioners, we are expected to discuss professional issues that will enhance proper development and promotion of the hospitality potentials in Delta State.

“The training will xray the sector as it is today, look at the future as we want it to be and proffer solutions to some of the challenges in the sector,” Mrs. Ogbolu noted.

These opening remarks set the stage for the Guest Lecturer, Alhaji Muritala Bankole of Hocal Hospitality, Lagos, a veteran of over 40 years in hospitality operations and development, to deliver his paper, which auspiciously centred around “Hospitality Mindsets”.

Alhaji Muritala Bankole was trained at the reputable Hotel Management School of Leeds Polytechnic England. He worked at various management capacity positions as, Food and Beverages Manager, Resident Manager and General Manager, in Arewa Hotels Development Limited at Durbar Hotel in Lagos and Kaduna; Lake Chad Hotel, Maiduguri; Manager, Golden Tulip Agura Hotel Abuja; Eko Hotels Limited as Controller of Operations; and Deputy Chief Executive Officer for Holiday Inn among other properties.

Highlighting on “Hospitality Mindsets”, he debunked some of the myths that are often associated with the hospitality sector, including wrong thinking that insinuate “…anybody can run hotel without any specialized Skills’; “Everything Goes”; “It solely requires a facility, build it and it can auto-run” and “customers will pay anyway”… amongst other erroneous perceptions regarding the industry.

Alhaji Muritala, who also emphasized that “with rapid expansion in the industry there is need to address quality of man power and training to improve on service delivery, to reinvent the Industry with a Marshal plan strategic turnaround and to Up skill and upgrade quality of line and supervisory staff to reflect the dynamics”, equally took the participants through a series of interactive teachings which included, Customer care management, productivity management, service delivery and service expectations, amongst others.

Engr. Chibuikem Diala, MIH, who is the Lead Consultant, Sustainable Eco6tems Limited, and organisers of International Hospitality, Tourism and Eco-Sustainability Forum (IHTEF), shared insights on how hospitality leaders, managers, supervisors can maximize the opportunities available in the sector, so as to create a “new hospitality, shared prosperity” for all stakeholders.

According to him, the new hospitality which the colloquium and Training is all about, is the “act of providing hospitality service in standard ways, (differently) or better than before, with a new mindset that is geared towards achieving sustainable growth that benefits the organization, teams and the hospitality sector.

“This has to be done intentionally by everyone within the hospitality value chain and ecosystem,” he informed the participants.

The colloquium, which featured high level panel discussions on ‘pathways to new hospitality in Delta State, was an exciting and exhaustive conversation on workforce development, personal grooming/branding, leadership, customer care and regulations.

Panelists included Mrs Josephine Ogbolu, General Manager, Delta State Tourism Board; Excel Opuaru MIH of XcellenciO Hospitality Lagos; Pastor Tony Kennedy, Snr. Pastor, House of Royalty International Christian Centre, Asaba; and Engr. Chuka Anuebunwa, Lead Consultant, Living Brands Integrated Services.

Other guests who graced the occasion were top government functionaries including, Dr Mrs Mini Oseji, Permanent Secretary, Delta State Ministry of Environment, Mr Pat Isichie, Perm Sec. rtd; the Chairman, Asaba, Warri and Ughelli Hoteliers Associations, as well as
Hospitality establishments owners and top managers, among others.

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