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FTAN, SON woo Lagos on uniform hotel grading

FTAN, SON woo Lagos on uniform hotel grading

In furtherance of its collaborative effort to sanitise and ensure international best practice in the hotel industry, the Federation of Tourism Association of Nigeria (FTAN), Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON), have met with the Lagos State Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture to streamline a seamless working relationship within the ambit of the law to launch a national hotel grading and classification exercise with Lagos as the pilot.

The trio, who met recently at the office of Uzamat Akinbile-Yusuf, the Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Lagos State, discussed on how to collaborate through practical terms chart a national uniform grading and certification model for other states to follow.

Speaking on the importance of management system standard, Felix Nyado, director, management systems certification, Standard Organisation of Nigeria, said the benefits range from identifying risk and opportunities, preventing problems from reoccurring, boosting marketing and sales effort, improving employees performance to improving management control over the business.

“The implementation of the standard is very important to the stakeholders in Nigeria (hotel owners and all hospitality and tourism promoters) because it is a sign of an upgrade in our hospitality business environment”, he said.

“The demand for a unified, one stop certification and rating system for Nigeria hospitality establishments is a request from the major stakeholders to reduce the weight of compliance on the owners.

“The inspection is going to be carried out by the state ministry of tourism and in line with the requirements of ISO/IEC 17020:2012 standard, which specifies requirements for competence of bodies performing inspection and for the impartiality and consistency of their inspection activities.”

The SON team who emphasised on the need to follow a best global standard in hotel grading and classification presented the ISO Management System Certification comprising of the ISO9001; Quality Management System, ISO 14001 Environment Management System, OHSAS18001 Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series, ISO22000 Food Safety Management System, Integrated Management System as well as the route of certification.

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According to Nyado, the provision of certification service is in the first, second and third phases among which are the inspection and grading audit, assessment report and recommendation and the final stage is the certification.

In her remark after the lead by the SON team, Akinbile-Yusuf appreciated the SON team for taking time out to visit the ministry over the grading of hotel, but reminded attendees that Lagos has its grading and classification mandate under the ambit of the law, adding that such provision is still valid and will be upheld irrespective of the collaboration.

Getting more curious about the position of the SON, she inquired about the actual role of SON in the hotel grading exercise, stating that they will not play second fiddle in their mandate which is clear under the supreme court judgment.

The commission also agreed on the fact that FTAN which is an organised private sector body is pushing the course for the benefit of the country and Lagos, but also held on to her position on who is taking a lead position in the grading exercise.

Giving a more clearer picture of the process, Nkereuwem Onung, president of FTAN, who interjected at a slightly cross road question on what is the role of each of the parties, said that the purpose of the collaboration is not to superimpose one party on the other but to use the process of division of labour at actualising the process that will bring uniformity in the hotel industry in terms of national grading and certification.

“We are actually making Lagos State the pilot of this grading and classification project as a pace setter and we know and believe that if the state gets it right, it will be a sustainable lead for other states of the federation”, Onung said.

Onung explained further that it is high time Nigeria joined the global best practice in giving our hotel and other tourism allied business an international standard so that all other benefits accrue to the status can be enjoyed.

“We are losing many things owing to non uniformity in the national grading of our hotels and this is an impediment to investment opportunity because no one will want to invest in an environment or business where everything goes.

“Also, as it is now, no one will even want to visit a place where every state runs its own grading where a one star hotel in state A will be two or three star rating in another state and so on.

“The Lagos state on their part made it clear that they are ready to collaborate and make the process work provided the parties involved in the collaborative effort recognise the legal provision of the supreme court in favour of the state”, the FTAN president said.

After a well-laid down explanation by the president of FTAN and the SON team at the meeting, the Lagos State Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, agreed to take time out to look at the SON strategic document on the requirements and guidance for use on hotel and serviced accommodation management system and rating the team and promised to get back in a month’s time for another meeting.

Already, the SON team has suggested a training slot for the director of the ministry as well as promised to invite the participation of the ministry’s representative to one of its exercises to give them a broad knowledge of what the role of the organisation entails as the certification organ of Nigeria.

The meeting had in attendance the president of FTAN, Nkereuwem Onung, vice president, South South, FTAN, Justina Ovat and FTAN national public relation officer, Wale Olapade. For the SON, Felix Nyado led the team, while the Lagos State Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture has in attendance the commissioner, Akingbile-Yusuf, the permanent secretary, Nathan-Marsh, assistant director, Hotel Licensing Department, Ladejobi Ganiyu Ibrahim among others.