• Monday, July 15, 2024
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BusinessDay

Nigeria lags behind in airport hotel offering

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With no international-branded hotels within or close to the international airports in Nigeria’s administrative and financial capitals, Abuja and Lagos, respectively, the country lags behind many others in Europe, the Americas, and even Africa, in offering quality accommodation to global visitors who prefer such hotels.

Nigeria also loses revenues that accrue from taxes for the airport hotels which globally are pricey, usually charging between $150 and $400.

The lure of hotels situated within or close to airports includes the convenience of proximity, security and savings on transportation from the city to the airport and back. There is also the convenience of speedy getaways in case of political or other crises or natural disasters in a host country.

For these reasons, airport hotels around the world typically record higher occupancy rates than others, industry watchers say. They add also that the presence of airport hotels usually influences rates in city hotels, causing the latter to reduce rates to woo travellers.

But the absence of such hotels in Nigeria, according to Mark Ogar, a hotel expert, forces most travellers who have no business lodging on the Lagos Island to go there in search of quality hotels, where they pay through their nose and then suffer the stress of gruelling traffic jams which are commonplace in Lagos.

“From OR Tambo Airport in South Africa to London’s Heathrow and other major airports across the world, travellers who have no business going further into the city stay within the airport hotels and do their business and leave the country, without necessarily venturing into town, except on intended sightseeing tours or other trips by choice,” said Ogar. “It is a shame that both Abuja and Lagos are yet to get international-branded hotels within the premises.”

Work is at slow pace at the 250-room Hilton Hotel located on the Murtala Mohammed Airport Road, Lagos. The hotel, which was expected to open in the first quarter of 2013, is still at foundation level and dashing the hopes of its publics and industry watchers.

Also, work has stopped at the unbranded hotel project by Bi-Courtney, the managers of the Murtala Mohammed Airport Terminal 2, at the domestic wing. The hotel was expected to have opened since 2012 but a spate of legal tussles between the private-sector investor and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) halted the project.

Sadly, a little distance from the site of the proposed Hilton Hotel, petrol stations, banks and even residential buildings are popping up.

“Are those places not FAAN land? Who gave them approval instead of hoteliers?” Ogar asked, wondering why most hospitality investors find it difficult getting land or approval to establish within the airport vicinity while banks and even residential buildings take over.

But an airport agency staff, who prefers anonymity, said land and building approvals were guided by “rules and standards”, claiming that high-rise buildings, typical of hotels, were not allowed in certain areas of the airport for aviation safety reasons.

He also disclosed that there were some who also got the approval but lacked the money to develop, or rather developed tanker parks or sold the land to other people who used them for investments outside the hospitality sector. “Who is to blame?” he asked.

OBINNA EMELIKE