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A’Ibom govt, SON, FTAN sign MOU for standard in hospitality industry

By Isaac Job

Akwa Ibom state government has signed a memorandum of understanding ( MOU) with Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON) and Federation of Tourism Association of Nigeria (FTAN) to ensure standards and sanity in the hospitality industry in the state.

The agreement was signed by the commissioner for Culture and Tourism Hon Orman Esin for the state government, Mr Nkereuwem Onung signed for FTAN while Engr Felix Nyado signed for the Director General, Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON) Mallam Farouk Salim

Executing the tripartite agreement in Uyo on Thursday, Esin said that the state government has decided to partner with relevant agencies to raise standard practice in the hospitality industry across the state.

“We are in a state where we believe that everything must have a standard. Akwa Ibom is one of the states that generate Internal Revenue starting from Ibom Air because when you pay to Ibom Air, you are paying to the state government. We are very interested in how to grow tourism industry as Ibom Air is expanding.

“Since the outbreak of covid 19, we started to develop our tourism sector. There are tourism sites in the state to develop. We have the intention to grow Akwa Ibom tourism sector, build and develop its standard to meet International best practices in the sector.”

He commended the Chairman Akwa Ibom state Tourism and Hotels Management Board Obong Ini Akpabio for bringing ingenuity and ideas that will reposition tourism sector in the state.

The Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice Uko Udom (SAN) said the Memorandum of Understanding was a legal framework that must be carefully studied to avoid conflict with already existing laws of the state on the operations of tourism businesses in the state.

The Attorney General who was represented by Director of Civil Litigation in the Ministry of Justice Barr Bassey Ekanem advised the state government to set up an implementation committee on standard practice in the hospitality industry in the state using the agreement as a blueprint in their operations.

The Director General, Standard Organization of Nigeria ( SON) Mallam Farouk Salim who represented the Organization in the MOU noted that tourism and hospitality sector has become the fastest-growing industry but lacks quality services that meet International standards.

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“As you are aware, tourism and hospitality sector is the fastest growing industry in Nigeria that is product and services oriented. However, the quality of its service delivery is far from being right.”

He said standardization and quality assurance approaches in the hospitality business were identified by tourism and hospitality practitioners in 2018 as a key solution to address poor quality service delivery.

Salim who was represented in the MoU execution by the Director, Management Systems Certifications in Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON) Engr Felix Nyado recalled that hospitality stakeholders worked with SON on technical and National Mirror Committees to produce standardization deliverables for the sector.

He said the standard practice is being tested in Lagos State adding that Akwa Ibom will be the first state to implement standards in hospitality business.

“This standard is auditable and will ensure that hotels and service accommodations are graded and certified across the country.

“The state Tourism Board will ensure transparency in its implementation. The state Tourism Board will carry out the aspect of inspection (ISO 17020) while SON and FTAN will carry out the management system certification component (ISO 17021) to establish the grading and quality management system status of the hotel.

He explained that the partnership arrangement is an organizational model used to overcome weaknesses of the policy and governance framework in related activities sector in Nigeria.

“It is expected that this partnership framework if given the needed political support will provide the needed guides towards sanitizing the sector, enhance competitiveness, deliver value to the hotel owner and improve the quality of service delivery in the hospitality industry,” he added.

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