Our fashion, entertainment make Nigeria destination of interest for foreign tourists —Founder, The Pyne Awards

Amaka Amatokwu-Ndekwu, a US based award-winning hospitality professional, is the organiser of The Pyne Awards and founder, Women in Hospitality Nigeria. In an interview with select journalists, she speaks about her wealth of experience in the tourism industry and what The Pyne Awards holds for 2020. WALE OLAPADE brings excerpt.

What are your experiences in the hospitality world?

The hospitality industry was a great starting point for me. It has and is still educating me on customer service; it has opened my mind to different cultures, attitudes and values. It has taught me empathy, paying attention to detail, and ultimately left me an unforgettable experience in the minds of the people I have come across.  Being a visionary in the business has further broadened my perspective. It encouraged me to ask the right questions in order to get the right answers and also it helped me to understand and give me the ability to lead others.

 

What’s your assessment of tourism and hospitality in Nigeria compared to global trend?

The hospitality and tourism industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the world, and it’s great to see that Africa isn’t left out. The rising purchasing power of customers, digital developments and partnerships between the private sector and government agencies in the industry has accelerated its continued growth.

Nigeria is not, however, one of the countries trying to develop their hospitality and tourism potential extensively. I see our young talented industry professionals, including myself, struggling to put Nigeria on the tourism map, but without government’s support, we can’t go that far.  Such young talented individuals need to be involved in creativity, structuring, decision making, implementation and development of the Nigerian hospitality and tourism sector.

 

The Pyne Awards is fast becoming a leading hospitality and tourism event. How do you hope to uphold the standard?

A project cannot be considered successful if the standard is not sustainable. The Pyne Awards is a leading hospitality and tourism event that aims to place Nigerian and African hospitality, travel and tourism on the global map. What makes us stand out from other tourism awards event is that every year we bring new concepts, honor the brands and employees who work for these brands, and ensure that we have a new message to share.

This year, we will expand our award categories to other African sub-regions such as Kenya, South Africa and Ghana, among others, which have been established as the giants of African tourism.  Several African countries will be included each year. We strive to be the leading platform for hospitality and tourism awards in Africa. Nigeria is going to be ready to compete with our African peers.

 

What critical measures do you see as ways to improve on quality service delivery in Nigeria hotels?

The role of hotels in the growth of tourism is very critical and cannot be overemphasised. I must tell you, there has been a significant improvement in service standards and culture compared to when I joined 10 years ago. The enthusiasm and motivation among its players have changed, but it can be better. My advice is for hospitality organisations to establish a culture of treating every guest like a VIP; make training a priority, not just a one for all but a regular routine. Personalise your customer service as well as programmes to assess the efficiency of your customer service and overall performance of the hotel. On the other hand, the government agencies also have to create programmes to monitor service standards, health and hygiene requirements, star ratings and facilities standards.

 

With your level of exposure, do you see Nigeria as one of those destinations of special interest to foreign tourists?

Sure, Nigeria is a destination of interest to foreign tourists, thanks to our fashion and entertainment industry. Nigeria is one of the African countries most Black Americans want to see, based on the stories they’ve read about the motherland. I wish Nigeria could see its potential and get to work with professionals like us who have so many ideas.

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