There’s a new dawn for the hospitality subsector in particular and the tourism industry generally in Akwa Ibom State.
The recent appointment of Icon Hotels and Resorts Nigeria as the new managers of Ibom Hotel and Golf Resort in Uyo, the state capital, is a clear signal that great times have befallen the state’s tourism sector which has been waiting to be explored. Indeed, this development couldn’t have come at a better time especially following the impact of the Covid 19 pandemic on the sector.
It has been reported that the tourism and hospitality sub-sectors have been hardest hit by the Coronavirus pandemic on a global scale with growing and staggering estimate of the industry loss. The situation is not very different in Nigeria and Akwa Ibom state where hospitality is one of the major sub-sectors planned for economic growth. Losses are unquantifiable.
The appointment of Icon Hotels and Resorts Nigeria, the Nigerian subsidiary of Icon Hotel Group Africa (IHGA), a pan-African hospitality giant, for the arduous task of turning around the fortunes of Ibom Hotel and Golf Resort is one that has been hailed by industry players and commentators as a step in the right direction. This comes on the heels of the pedigree the Icon Group has in African hospitality management.
The group is reputed to be one of the fastest growing end-to-end hospitality service providers on the African continent, offering high level consultancy on different aspects of hospitality and management of projects from foundation to completion. In just nine years of existence, the hotel group has become an industry leader with demonstrable expertise in the conceptualization, actualization and management of world-class hospitality projects in different parts of Africa.
With a strong footing in East Africa where its name strongly resonates in the hospitality industry, IHGA has in recent times made inroads into the West African sub-region with Nigeria and now fast establishing presence in Benin Republic, Senegal and Cameroon.
In Nigeria, The Group announced its entry grandly when it brought its expertise to bear on the successful turnaround of the former Best Western Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos, through its Nigerian subsidiary – Icon Hotels and Resorts Nigeria. The exercise saw a complete turnaround and rebranding of the hospitality facility to become BWC Hotel, offering best-in-class services that compare with any hotel in Lagos and, indeed, the world.
That is the pedigree Icon Hotels is onboarding for the management of Ibom Hotel and Golf Resort, the flagship of hospitality in Akwa Ibom State. With the new development, there is heightened excitement in the hospitality industry and indeed the State on the prospects of a turnaround of the fortunes of the hotel. Indeed, expectations are quite high on what it portends for the state’s economy in the short, medium and long run, beginning with enthronement of an improved culture of excellence in service delivery, dinning experience and welcoming ambience in line with international standards befitting of the hotel’s global clientele.
Recall during the handover ceremony, Governor Udom Emmanuel underscored the high expectation of the management company’s performance in the next 12 months. The governor, who was represented by his chief of staff, Ephraim Inyang-Eyen, pledged the support of his government to Icon Hotels & Resorts Nigeria in the discharge of their task in ensuring Ibom Hotel and Golf Resort becomes one of the leading hospitality brands on the African continent. He sought innovative ideas that would attract patronage for the hotel by the hospitality managers and in particular the tourism development of the state.
Without a doubt, the hospitality giant led by the czar of hotel business, Mr. Fred Maina – the Group Chief Executive Officer of IHGA, pledged the company’s commitment to ensuring a fully revamped and globally competitive hotel brand within the shortest possible time.
According to Fred Maina, IHGA & its subsidiary, IHRN have a well-crafted and efficient business and operating model that will enable the hotel record unprecedented boost in customer experience from service delivery, excellent cuisine and ambience with international standards and well-trained personnel. IHGA excels in the area of professional training and development and is committed to bringing East African excellence in training on international hospitality best practices to bear on the staff of the hotel, while providing training opportunities to other hospitality service providers in the State.
Mr. Adetope Kayode, the Chief Executive Officer of Icon Hotels and Resorts Nigeria, echoed the same sentiment at the prospects of the improved fortunes of Ibom Hotel and Golf Resort, which means a lot not just to the hotel, but the State in general.
According to him, it will signpost the future of tourism development in the State, creating value and boosting the State’s economy. With the expected rise in standards of service delivery to bring it in line with what obtains globally, the hotel is expected to become the benchmark for the standard of hospitality services in the state – one that other service providers would strive to emulate in order to be competitive. This is a positive development for the rich hospitality culture for which Akwa Ibom is well known.
There is also the fact that management of Ibom Hotel and Golf Resort by the renowned hospitality experts will transform guest experience at the hotel into a full-fledged resort experience for diverse groups including corporates, leisure seekers and families. One of the stated objectives of the Icon Group is to transform the hotel into the undisputed premier destination for MICE in the country.
Truly, something good has come to the hospitality industry in Akwa Ibom State.