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Will Sokoto’s rehabilitated hotels change the face of business?

Grimy, old furniture, unlit hallways, faulty facilidwindlingincluding electricity and water had characterized the Sokoto state owned Giginya and Shukurah Hotels over the years. The state…

Grimy, old furniture, unlit hallways, faulty facilidwindlingincluding electricity and water had characterized the Sokoto state owned Giginya and Shukurah Hotels over the years.

The state of the hotels had elicited a growing   lamentation, as   visitors to Sokoto were faced with the problem of inadequate decent accommodation.

Giginya and Shukurah hotels were built years back, even before and during the administration of late Governor Shehu Kangiwa.

Giginya hotel, a modern 4-winged five star hotel, located along the western bye–pass Sokoto, was constructed and equipped with all modern facilities of international standard.

The hotel provides accommodation, conference facilities, a modern restaurant, recreational centres, swimming pools, souvenir shops for tourists and visitors to the state.

It became very popular, hosting many local and national conferences. It also attracted sizeable chunk of visitors to the state.

But over the years, owing to what many attributed to poor maintenance culture, the hotel facilities degenerated. Over time, the hotel remained in shabby and repulsive conditions.

The once well-liked hotel, became the embarrassing and uncomfortable destination to recommend to visitors to the state.

The story was not different with Shukurah hotel located along Kano road.

It was therefore apparent why the Sokoto State government in 2010, approved the sum of $12.4 million for the renovation of its hotels to meet international standards.

The hotels were rehabilitated by the state government under a Public Private Partnership (PPP) agreement with Coral International Hotels and Resorts, Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

While the rehabilitated Giginya hotel has only recently reopened, after going through rehabilitation for months, Shukurah Coral hotel has since been completed and commissioned for use.

Those who have been patronizing the new, improved Shukurah attest to the fact that it can now compete favorably with hotels in other parts of the world.

A night at the hotel reveals amenable services, pleasant and commendeable staff, keen to assist and ensure great hospitality for the customers comfort. Rooms are nice of reasonable size, and equipped with new furnishings and fine amenities. The environment is clean, attractive and heartening.

Its restaurant offers good food and services. Food is ready within a few minutes of making an order.

However, one thing that some complain about, is that there is no complimentary breakfast, as in many standard hotels elsewhere.

For the Giginya hotel, now Giginya Coral Hotel with a total of 400 rooms, which was reopened only recently, its facilities have also undergone a major revamping, and it is expected to generate about N40 million monthly.

At the recommissioning of Giginya Coral Hotel, Governor Aliyu Wamakko opined that “a favourable climate has been created for investors coming into Sokoto, to know that we are concerned with their comfort”

He said the rehabilitation of the hotel, which he described as on historic milestone “truly underscores our resolve as an administration to reposition Sokoto as a business haven”.

But Governor Wamakko identified reasons why the hospitality industry in the state was in a poor shape.

“If we go down memory lane, we will discover a history of Government’s failure in running successful business ventures. Most industries in Sokoto were set up by Government and virtually almost all have failed, for the simple reason that these industries and businesses were not run by the business community, but by Government. By training, Government officials lack the expertise for business ventures, but for public service”.

The hospitality industry, he added, “suffered the fate as that of the manufacturing industry, for the same reasons of Government delving into an area that is best suited for the private sector. Today, only a few of such businesses have remained operational, largely because Government handed them over to the private sector to manage”.

According to him, it was in line with this thinking and with the benefit of hindsight that the present administration wholly embraced a new initiative that has come into force, known as the Public, Private Partnership.

“What we are witnessing today is the consummation of that new policy drive, that enables Government to invite private investors to manage such business, under mutually agreeable and benefices terms”, he asserted.

He expressed joy that Giginya hotel which was in bed shape had been given a new lease of life.

The hotel, according to the governor, was rehabilitated to meet the contemporary global standards, and said that it can now compete favourably with any hotel of its kind, in any port of the world.

“Today I feel truly   proud to unveil and present to the members of the business community and the organized private sector, a totally rehabilitated, beautified and re-organized Giginya Coral Hotel that can compete favourably with any hotel of its kind because it has all the facilities that can meet with international standards”.

But the governor urged the partner to manage the hotel in line with Islamic guidelines and culture.

The state Commissioner for Commerce, Barrister Nasiru Aliyu Dantsoho said the rehabilitation of Giginya hotel would boost the state’s revenue generation and create employment for the youths.

Over N60 million is expected to be generated monthly from the` two hotels, he estimated.

He said at present Shukurah Coral Hotel alone generates between N15 to N20 million.

For the president of the Coral International Hotels and Resorts, Mr Ahmed Gulum “Our dreams have become true tonight. Tonight we are celebrating the inaugural event for Giginya Coral hotel and when I look at this hotel at this moment I feel like I am looking at a very beautiful bride.

This bride is being prepared to go to her married life and insha Allah this marriage will be very successful”, he said, adding “I extend on behalf of all of us our warm congratulations to his Excellency for the beautiful gift he has given us. And we are very happy for that”

He cast his mind back to the previous year when the Shukurah Coral was inaugurated and acknowledged the commitment of the state government, which he said enabled them to achieve their target.

“I still remember the beautiful memories at the inauguration night the Shukurah Coral under the patronage of his Excellency that has given us a very good incentive to work very hard in order to work once again on the Giginya project, to make sure that we fulfill our commitment and we achieve our targets”.

According to the Coral International Hotels and Resorts boss, the running of Giginya hotel shall also be in line with how they have operated the Shukurah Coral hotel.

“We promise you, Your Excellency that we will work very hard. We will try to double   the income, so that the image of this hotel will be as excellent as any Five Stars elsewhere, and therefore we will encourage your Excellency to build more of these properties, to sell the tourism industry in Sokoto State”.

He also recommended “the museum be activated to support the industry. The Convention centre, the Golf Club and so many other things, which we shall hopefully propose, so that we will support the industry and fill up the hotel”.

The rehabilitation of the hotel is expected to generate employment opportunities for youths in the state. This, the president Coral International Hotels and Resorts pledged to ensure.

He asserted “when I first met His Excellency, he told me, Ahmed you must take care of the young people of the state. They should get into the industry. I am very happy to say that the time has come and I have signed Letter of Understanding with Hotel College in Lebanon .The Hotel College would host occasionally, based on our recommendations, people and staff of this hotel, whom we feel have reached a certain standard. We plan to send them to Lebanon, to enable them to learn the industry on a managerial level, so that they can come and take over”.

He said besides this, “we shall have courses on short term basis like one month, two months in Sokoto. We will be bringing the trainers and teachers from the same college to train a group of our staff in order to develop their careers further, as I have noticed that there are a good number of the staff, who, if they are taken care of, can be very successful hoteliers in the future”.

Mr Ahmed Gulum also said they will establish a marketing centre at Giginya Coral Hotel, in order to market the convention facilities and meetings all over Nigeria. This, he noted with optimism, will attract the private sector to come and hold their meetings, seminars, workshops and exhibitions in the state.

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