President and Chief Executive Officer of the global hotel chain, the Rezidor Hotels group, Mr. Kurt Ritter, has said that one of the major disincentives faced by international brands wishing to invest in Nigeria, in particular, was the absence of any benchmark system for the hospitality industry.
Ritter who said this during his presentation at the recent official opening of the Radisson Blu Anchorage Hotel in Victoria Island, Lagos, noted that the problem was also a major challenge for prospective foreign investors in the industry.
Radisson Blu is a brand of the Rezidor Hotels Group, opening for the first time in sub-Saharan Africa, with two more of the brand planned for Abuja and Accra, in Ghana. Another of the global hotel chain’s brand, the Park Inn is planned for opening by 2013.
“The problem in seeking to expand your brand in a territory like the sub-Saharan Africa and even to a large extent Africa as a whole is that there is no benchmarking system where an operator can use to either rate his own performance in the industry and project the future for his business or even use in evaluating his establishment,” said Ritter.
According to the hotelier, the problem of absence of benchmarking was only a part of the challenges faced by prospective investors, which he said, explains why international brands are hesitant in expanding their reach into this part of Africa.
The Rezidor chief then proceeded to list further challenges confronting investors in the hotel industry as cultural differences, lack of proper legal frameworks to cover and protect investments, bureaucratic bottlenecks encountered by investors in obtaining permits and clearances to operate.
“Then there is also the dearth or rather insufficient number of experienced and skilled professional who can effectively manage these establishments to international standards and also the lack of information which I pointed out earlier as part of the benchmarking system,” Ritter stressed.
On indigenous or local financing for proposed facilities, Ritter noted that Nigeria and Africa in general were replete with financial institutions who drag their feet when it comes to long-term financing or loans and facilities for investors.
“Here banks refuse to finance projects in the long-term, which is a problem for investors seeking funds to execute their projects. This means that investors have to look elsewhere for support and this of course will to a large extent determine citing for their projects,” he said.
Ritter pointed out that the case of a high number of failed states in Africa like Somalia, Zimbabwe, and others, scare investors away as they are confident on recouping investments.
“There is also this issue of regional instability. And of course the over-dependence of hotels and their operators on strong commodity prices. A particular case in point being that of Angola which is heavily dependent on oil. This is not good for the economy and by extension foreign investors especially those in the hospitality industry,” the Swiss hotelier said.
It would be recalled that Radisson Blu Anchorage Hotel, Lagos penultimate week officially opened in Nigeria with a 170-guest room, under the management of the Rezidor Hotel Group, one of the fastest growing global hotel chains.
The interior of the hotel was designed by the Swedish hospitality designer Christian Lundwall; who has also decorated the 170 guest rooms in two unique styles. All rooms offer views of Lagos Lagoon or the city, have both bathtub and walk-in shower, and guests benefit from Radisson Blu signature services such as free high speed internet access.
The all-day-dining Voyage Restaurant with own terrace serves an international buffet with a choice of Nigerian and continental dishes, in addition to an à la carte menu with dishes from the region and Europe. The Surface Bar & Grill on the terrace offers al fresco dining and views over the lagoon, with jetty access for dining cruises. And the View bar lounge promises a stunning lagoon panorama, light snacks and drinks.
With a top-floor Business Lounge, 4 spacious meeting rooms and 2 boardrooms, the hotel has some of the finest meeting facilities in Lagos. Three of the conference rooms are located on the ground floor and provide access to the veranda, which overlooks the lagoon and can be reserved for special events.
For relaxation after a day of sightseeing or meetings, the new property includes a fitness and wellness area with gym, massage rooms, outdoor infinity swimming pool and children’s pool.