As part of their joint effort to sanitise and ensure global best practices in the hospitality industry, the Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN) and the Standard Organisation of Nigeria have met with the Lagos State Government through the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture to discuss how to launch a uniform national hotel grading and classification exercise with the state as the pilot lead.
At the meeting, held at the office of the Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mrs Uzamat Akinbile-Yusuf, part of the discussion focused on the need to chart a certification model for other states to follow.
Speaking on the importance of management system standards, the Director, Management Systems Certification at the Standards Organisation of Nigeria, Mr Felix Nyado, said the benefits ranged from identifying risk and opportunities, preventing problems from reoccurring, boosting marketing and sales efforts, improving employees’ performance to improving management control over businesses.
“The implementation of the standard is very important to the stakeholders in Nigeria (hotel owners and all hospitality and tourism promoters) because it is a sign of an upgrade in our hospitality business environment.
“The demand for a unified, one stop certification and rating system for Nigerian hospitality establishments is a request from the major stakeholders to reduce the weight of compliance on the owners.
“The inspection is going to be carried out by the state ministry of tourism and in line with the requirements of ISO/IEC17020:2012 standard, which specifies requirement for competence of bodies performing inspection and for the impartiality and consistency of their inspection activities,” Nyado said.
The SON team, which emphasised the need to follow a global best standard in hotel grading and classification, presented the ISO Management System Certification, comprising the ISO9001 Quality Management System, ISO 14001 Environment Management System, OHSAS18001 Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series, ISO22000 Food Safety Management System, Integrated Management System and the route of certification.
According to Nyado, who is also the leader of the team, the provision of certification service is in first, second and third phases: Inspection and grading audit, assessment report and recommendation, as well as certification, which is the final phase.
In her remarks, Akinbile-Yusuf noted that Lagos had its grading and classification mandate under the law, adding that such provision was still valid and would be upheld, despite the collaboration.
Curious about the position of SON, she inquired about the actual role of the organisation in the hotel grading exercise, stressing that Lagos would not play second fiddle in its mandate, which was clearly stated in the Supreme Court judgment.
The commissioner also agreed that the FTAN, which is an organised private sector body, is pushing the cause for the benefit of Lagos and Nigeria as a whole, but she held on to her position on who will lead the grading exercise.
Giving a clearer picture of the process, the President of FTAN, Nkereuwem Onung, said the purpose of the collaboration was not to impose one party on the other but to use the process of division of labour to actualise the process that will bring uniformity to the hospitality industry in terms of national grading and certification.
“We are actually making Lagos State the pilot of this grading and classification project as a pace setter and we know and believe that if the state gets it right, it will be a sustainable lead for other states of the federation, he said.
Onung said that it was high time Nigeria joined other countries around the world to ensure global best practices in the hospitality industry, tourism and allied businesses so that all other benefits accruing to the status can be enjoyed.
“We are losing many things due to non-uniformity in the national grading of out hotels and this is an impediment to investment opportunities because nobody wants to invest in an environment or business that everything goes.
“Also, as it is now, nobody will even want to visit a place where every state runs it own grading where a one-star hotel in state A will receive two or three star-rating in other states and so on.
“The Lagos State Government on its part made it clear that it is ready to collaborate and make the process work, provided that the parties involved in the collaborative effort recognise the legal provision of the Supreme Court in favour of the state.”
Akingbile-Yusuf agreed to take time out to look at SON’s strategic document on the requirements and guidance for use on hotel and services accommodation management system, rate the team and promised to get back in a month’s time for another meeting.
Already, the SON team had suggested a training slot for the director of the ministry. It promised to invite the ministry’s representative to one of its exercises to give them a broad knowledge of what the role of the organisation entails as a certification organ of Nigeria.