Director General of the corporation, Otunba Olusegun Runsewe, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that classification of hotels was an international matter that required lot of money to embark on.
“To classify and grade hotel is not just a one-off thing. It is not a local government thing. It is an international thing where your invite the body responsible for classification to come and study the hotels before classifying them.
“They have to live in the hotels for months without your knowledge to observe all the activities going on in the hotel to give their judgment.
“You have to pay for their transportation, lodging and feeding for the period they have to stay in your country to study the hotels and all this entails a lot of money,’’ he said.
Runsewe, who, however, noted that government was working toward the classification of hotels that would assist in boosting the tourism industry, said that the corporation was equally working to reduce crime and fraud in the industry, adding that some persons who claimed to be tour operators were fakes.
“I am trying to introduce bio-metric system in tourism. We want to do bio-metric so that we have information of every staff working in the hospitality industry.
“This is the practice all over the world. Regulations in the hotels are new to Nigerians but we must start and push to get things right. We are making people to understand it must happen,’’ he said.
Runsewe who also called on state government to be committed to the development of tourism sites in their state to create jobs, increase internally generated revenue and boost tourism, said that if states are committed to the development of tourism in their state, it would go a long way to bring development at the centre.
He said that the corporation was committed to the development of tourism and cultural festivals, adding that NTDC was supporting more than 150 festivals across the country.
In a related development, Area Manager (West Africa) for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., and General Manager, Sheraton Lagos Hotels, Mr. Alex Gassauer, has maintained that the process hotel classification and grading anywhere in the world remains subjective and totally dependent on the hotel guest.
Gassauer who was addressing a media conference inside the Four Points by Sheraton, Lekki, Lagos, recently to formally announce the signing of an agreement for a new hotel in Benin City, the Edo State capital to be flagged by Starwood under its Four Points by Sheraton brand.
Starwood currently operates five hotels in Nigeria, including Le Méridien Ogeyi Place, Le Méridien Ibom Hotel & Golf Resort, Sheraton Lagos, Sheraton Abuja and Four Points by Sheraton Lagos. Le Méridien Ikoyi Towers will open in December 2013.
The event also served as platform to officially introduce the newly-appointed General Manager of the Four Points, Lekki, Austrian-born Mr. Christian Tomandl, who replaces the pioneer General Manager, Mr. Peer-Christian Fritz, the Swiss national who had served since the hotel’s opening in the fourth quarter of 2010.
Maintaining that the regulation and grading may still be necessary, Gassauer stressed that present economics of hotel administration relies strongly on guests’ opinion and grading, as, according, to him, it is the guest who ultimately decides if a hotel’s grading is appropriate.
“This is my personal opinion, the whole practice of grading and classification in today’s hotel business seems no longer necessary because it is now the guests who decide if a hotel is truly it claims to be in terms of its rating. If you say your hotel if 5-star and the guests come and don’t get a 5-star treatment, then expect that they’ll take to the social media and run you down. And it is so because the social media today is a strong influence in business in the hospitality industry,” Gassauer.