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Anambra Govt Launches Hunt for Unlicensed Hotels, Others, Warns Against Harbouring of Criminals



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By Izunna Okafor, Awka

The Anambra State has reiterated her call on hotel proprietors and owners of hospitality industries who are operating in the state without registration, to kindly register their facilities with the state government and obtain or renew their operational licences.

The State Commissioner for Culture, Entertainment, Leisure and Tourism, Mr. Don Onyenji, made this known in an interview with this reporter, Izunna Okafor, over the weekend, and in which he also highlighted the need for such registration and its symbiotic benefits to the facility owners and the state government.

The Commissioner recalled that the registration notice and directive had long been given to the hotel proprietors and owners of hospitality industries in the state, regretting that many of them are yet to comply, despite the government having given them enough time to do so.

“Before now, most hotels in the state, since three years now, have been given demand notices to go and register their hotels and be given operational licenses, but many of them are yet to comply,” he said.

According to him, registration and licensing of hotels in the state is very important, as it will enable the government to know about the existence, locations and operations of the hotels in the state, have necessary data for policy formulation and also boost revenue generation in the state, while also offering hotel owners the benefits of enhanced credibility, financial access, marketing support, and protection, among other benefits, which will all result in a high-quality, safe, standard, and thriving tourism and hospitality industry in the state. This, he said, also applies to bars and other leisure centres owners and operators in the state.

The Commissioner explained that another key essence of the registration and government’s issuance of the operational licenses is to is to regulate the hospitality industry, adding that this is also a global practice. He noted that such regulations in states in Nigeria and other countries of the world help to improve the tourism sector of that state or country, further hinting that the hospitality sector is a professional industry, which necessitates that the operators in the industry do so with license

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“The tourism industry is professionalized, because all hotels are supposed to maintain international standards in terms of their services and other areas, such as fair service management system, neatness of the environment, the kitchen, what they give people, and, of course, security, and other services.

“It also provides principles through which the state government will improve the tourism industry, so as to make practitioners and stakeholders benefit in their businesses,” the Commissioner said.

While attesting that tourism and investments are currently booming in Anambra State, which he attributed to the massive infrastructural development being championed in different parts of the state by Governor Chukwuma Soludo’s administration, as well the provision of adequate security and the maintenance of environmental cleanliness by his government; Commissioner Onyenji also noted that these have shot up and continued to augment the number of people and tourists coming into the state.

He, however, explained that these tourists, whether coming from the state, outside the state, or any part of the world for one reason or the other in the state, deserve to be given best standard of services, and which some hospitality industry practitioners may not, if they don’t have operational license that authorizes or regulates their operations.

“If we must have, as the Governor wants to do, a smart mega city, where people can come to invest, relax and enjoy; it means that the hotels and allied organizations should also exhibit good and acceptable international services while attending to our people (our tourists),” he said.

“And so, this is why hotels must be registered with the state so that state will know where they are operating, their levels, and also intervene when there is need in terms of attending to their services, because hotels and allied services also at certain times need government’s assistance. So this is a symbiotic relationship,” the Commissioner added.

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While noting that his Ministry recently had another interaction with the leadership of Hotel Owners Association in the state regarding the way forward in the registration and obtaining of operational license; the Commissioner, who said the law regarding the registration and licensing took effect from 2016; also revealed that a team from the Ministry and the Anambra Internal Revenue Service (AIRS) have begun visiting hotels in the state to enforce the law, after having given enough grace to the defaulters.

This, he said, has resulted in sealing off some hotels, bars and leisure centres in the state because of their owners’ refusal to obey the law and do the needful.

“Many of them have not registered since decades they were established. The mobile court has been giving court summons to hotels, and those who refuse to attend to the court summons stand to pay fines and possibly get sealed off until they comply with the law.

“We must maintain the best environment for ourselves, for the Anambra diaspora, and for our visitors, if we must make Anambra great,” he said.

Commissioner Onyenji also advised hotel owners in the state to always watch out for criminal elements, and ensure they don’t use their facilities as hideouts to harbour criminals, as government is very determined to reduce and possibly wipe out criminality in the state. He warned that any hotel whose facility is used as hideout for criminals will not only be sealed, by will also face the full weight of the law.

“Hospitality industry drives development. So, I advise the proprietors and the practitioners in the state to always do the needful expected of them and desist from anything that is capable of sabotaging these progressive efforts of the Solution Government to make Anambra a livable and prosperous homeland,” Onyenji concluded.

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