Chima Chukwunyere, chairman, Nigerian Hotels Association (NHA), Imo State Chapter, has said that hotel facilities in Owerri were still open for business and booking, contrary to the trending rumour that the Imo State government has booked all the hotel rooms in Owerri from November 4 to 11,2023.
Chukwunyere urged the Imo State government and electricity workers to explore diplomatic means to resolve the problem that led to a power outage in the state.
He spoke in Owerri during a press briefing.
“We recall that recently, there was a momo or letter dated October 25, 2023, signed by Jerry Egemba, a lawyer and the Imo State commissioner for tourism , referencing , “MTC & CA/S.76/VOL.1/T/90” which was addressed to all the executive officers and general managers of all the hotels in Owerri Metropolis.
“The letter urged the hotel owners in the Owerri Metropolitan City to make their rooms available for booking by the state government from November 4 to 11,2023 for the gubernatorial election,” he said.
Chukwunyere in his briefing said that “captains of the hotel industry gladly received the information because for a number of hotels to have full occupancy for a number of days means a miracle from God, which has never happened before and hotels have never received 60 percent occupancy for a long time.
“But nothing has happened since then and customers are growing increasingly apprehensive about patronising us.
We wish to state that all hotels operating in Imo are open for business. We, therefore, call on our customers to continue to patronise the industry.”
Chukwunyere, however, described the tourism industry in the state as the second largest employer of labour in the state after the government, stating that the power outage was posing negative effects on the industry, with some hotels shutting down.
The NHA, Imo chapter, said that with diesel at the rate of N1,300 per litre, that it has become increasingly difficult to sustain the industry following the outage.
He also said that some staff of hotels have already lost their jobs as their employers could no longer sustain their remunerations and the added running cost, a fallout of the blackout.
“We are calling on the state government to put a human face and employ diplomacy in the current situation.
“Also, we want the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) to understand that although they are fighting for the rights of the masses, it would not be morally right to take decisions capable of subjecting the masses to more hardship.
“We were never informed that there would be a power outage. It happened without prior notice and we therefore, call for diplomatic solutions to the disagreement,” he said.