Mr. Monsuru Adeyemi Adeboye is the Chief Executive Officer of Mashy Guest House and Sport Bar located in Papa Ajao, Lagos. In this interview with EBERE CHIBUZOR, the hotelier emphasizes that one does not need to be a millionaire before engaging in recreational activities, adding that the government needs to develop the tourism industry so that all its citizen would benefit from the tourism potentials in the country. Excerpts
What is the state of tourism sector in Nigeria. Is the industry pretty good?
There are lots of issues that evolve around tourism; geographical, historical, cultural sites & events, which need to be preserved for assessment, security of the environment, coupled with good hotel hospitality and trained tourism guide to mention a few.
The government’s ministry of tourism need to solicit for the help of individuals who are in field of hospitality business and have been a tourist to various notable tourist nations organizing seminars, whereby opinion on constructive way forward could be achieved thus building a solid tourism board to make the country attractive to tourist and generate income for the economy.
How would you compare the Nigeria hospitality industry to what we have in the western world?
Nigeria’s hospitality industry is still below standard, but the tourism as a whole, is a huge market in this country. Perhaps, the people in the ministry have not found the right approach on how to boost tourism.
For example, take a look at a place like Calabar in Cross River State, which is really trying in the areas of encouraging tourism. The government created an avenue for people to come once into Calabar and see.
They created well organized carnival and recreational events. The ministry as a government agency in Nigeria is lagging behind. It is difficult to compare tourism in Nigeria with that of the Western World.
How do you think that Nigeria would be able to harness other aspects of tourism?
The Ministry of Tourism needs to go and check areas such as communal development, communal recreational centre, and community market centre.
In religious tourism, some of them go to TB Joshua but if you see the surrounding of that Synagogue Church now, one will realized that we are not organized. Our tourism board is failing; our ministry of planning also is failing. There is need for all the parastatals to work hand in hand.
What if the individual decides to do it on their own?
Individuals cannot do it without the government. They need government’s supports because, security is paramount and government is not encouraging it.
More so, government has to secure a large expanse where they can build something like malls and sell to the public. If the government does this, somebody like me will come there and I will apply for one or two shops.
But you cannot centre all these things to one individual, because when you put it in an individual to handle, it would not be organized. The security would not be sufficient.
But if it is a big mall, government will provide guards; police post, police checking point, telephone and the necessary facilities would be provided.
How does the ministry of tourism benefit from such arrangement?
When you create such services, it will create employment in the nation and credibility to the tourism managers. However, the problem is that the tourism board is failing; the government needs to beautify and change the dynamics of his community.
How did you enter into the hospitality and tourism industry?
Everybody cannot afford to lodge in a five star hotel; and not everybody can afford Marriot Hotel, Oriental hotel and others. I saw there is need for us in this country to provide accommodation for the people at an affordable place.
That was why I decided and tried as much as possible to provide the best as equivalent to these top hotels. I travelled to Abuja; and I found out that there are hotels and few guesthouses that are affordable.
For instance, if somebody is going to Abuja for site-seeing as a tourist; that person does not need to be excessively rich. Tourism has nothing to do with wealth. It is a matter of holidaying, enjoying, getting to know places and you don’t have to be a multi-millionaire to be a tourist.
You can decide to go to Ile Ife from Lagos for holiday to see some historical places. So, when you get to Ile Ife, you will now discover that the kind of hotel you would stay costs about twenty thousand Naira (N20, 000:00).
Before one can have a reasonable room that has bed, television, cable network with air-conditioner. If somebody decides to go to Ile Ife, for example, for two weeks and to pay N20, 000 naira or more, just for a night, then how much is that person’s salary.
This is the reason why we decided to provide hospitality services and recreation at a reasonable price. It may not be the same with Sheraton and Oriental Hotels, but we try to provide the basic amenities such as cable network, good sleeping bed, air conditioned room, good water, bar, reception, bar, club house and other services that would make somebody to feel at home at reasonable and affordable rate.
The tourism industry itself is still lagging behind; there are not enough hotels and guest houses in this country. I think it only centers on the way the Ministry of Tourism is doing their home work.
What are the challenges in running hospitality business in Nigeria?
Well, maybe, one day we would have the sense of restructuring and planning. These are the two major problems the industry is facing. Tourism is a multi-million dollar business and there are people making millions out of it.
Somebody is claiming ownership of Oniru Beach and Elegushi Beach and the tourism is in this country. If individual has claims to the ownership to a place and the place is more of the government interest, that individual would be paid even on commission but now they run the show and do whatever they like.
If I tell you the amount of money the Oniru and Elegushi Beaches are making by people who are running them, you cannot believe and they are not even running the place in a proper way so that it would attract tourists.
Had it been it is the ministry of tourism that is running it, they would now franchise it out to a company and you will see a different approach. Look at the national theatre, it is so funny now. It is part of tourism. It is like a ghetto, bear palour. Another big challenge is electricity.
Is the business lucrative?
I told you before that tourism is a multi-million dollar industry. There are several countries in this world that make their entire revenue only on tourism.
It is not a kind of a business you want to do with double mind. You have to recreate, rebrand, reconstruct and repackage. I have been in Barbados, Caribbean, Thailand; they were organized.