New dawn in Anambra, as Golden Tulip takes over Agulu Lake Hotel
Available statistics show that the future of tourism in Africa holds great potential, though its expansion and development depends on better transport infrastructure, in addition to open borders, and improved marketing to niche sectors such as adventure and eco-travellers.
However, the history of international tourism overall is one of growth interrupted by short to medium term crises. Research shows that countries with a weak domestic tourism sector are less able to withstand the impact of major crises in international markets such as economic depression, terrorist attack, natural disaster, etc. Conversely, countries with a strong domestic tourism sector are generally better equipped to withstand fluctuations in international demand.
Just recently, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed set the tone for the development of domestic tourism in Nigeria with a tour of tourist sites in the country, with a view to developing them for economic benefits. During his visit to the spectacular Owu Waterfall in Kwara State, the Minister, who underscored the dearth of infrastructure as one of the major challenges confronting tourism development in Nigeria, however, expressed optimism that the revitalisation of the Presidential Council on Tourism (PCT), will bring about synergy within the government to surmount the challenge and boost domestic tourism.
Meanwhile, the newly appointed Director General, Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Mr. Folorunso Folarin-Coker, is of the opinion that the country should focus on domestic tourism in order to grow the industry. For the DG, the sector has immense potentials that are vastly untapped and could be harnessed if the products are well-packaged domestic consumption.
In what seems like a strategic move to take advantage of the opportunity being provided by the new direction, the government of Anambra State has entered into a business agreement with Golden Tulip Hotel Group, over the management of idyllic Agulu Lake Hotel Resort, which governor Willie Obiano inherited from his predecessor, Peter Obi.
The 100-Room tourism showpiece nestles in the verdant green slope beside the famous Agulu Lake in Aniocha Local Government Area of the state and is expected to set the tone for the development of the site to a major tourism destination in the state.
Witnessed by notable citizens of Anambra State, including former Vice President, Chief Alex Ekwueme and veteran Nollywood star Chief Pete Edochie, the agreement signing, which took place at the foregrounds of the hotel in Agulu marks the entry of a major player into the tourism and hospitality industry of the state. Coming on the heels of the recent entry of the Chinese with an airport city project, it seems Anambra’s intention of becoming a major destination in Nigeria is gradually gaining momentum.
Speaking at the handover and agreement signing ceremony, the Governor applauded the arrival of the Golden Tulip Group as an important development in the history of the state.
“It marks the first formal entry of a multinational hotel management group into our beloved state. This is a clear proof that we have opened our doors wide and the world has noticed our efforts to be part of its numerous success stories. This ceremony also goes down in history as the formal opening of our tourism and hospitality sector with its many fantastic offerings to the world. Anambra is home to some of the unsung wonders of the world! We can only hope that with the entry of the Golden Tulip hotel chain, the world will finally discover our tourism treasures,” he said.
Enumerating the anticipated benefits of having the renowned hotel chain in the state, Governor Obiano said, “I have no doubt that the entry of the Golden Tulip group into our dear state will induce a sea-change of attitude in favour of Anambra State in the investment community. In fact, their entry is a loud signal to the outside world that Anambra is now ready to leverage its enormous potentials to compete for a space in the global tourism map. Anambra is home to some of the oldest archaeological treasures in Africa.”
He further expressed the hope that the hotel would create jobs and cut down the number of the unemployed in the state. He also revealed that the Ministry of Tourism and Diaspora Affairs was seriously looking at developing the state’s tourism sites with a view to linking them up with Golden Tulip and other hotels in the state to ensure that special tours are packaged for visitors, who may wish to visit the tourism offerings in the state.
Also speaking the Chief Executive Officer of Golden Tulip West Africa, Mr Amaechi Ndili, who assured the hotel would open for business within the next six months, commended Governor Obiano’s sterling achievements in his three years in office.
“Our ambition is to continue to grow and continue to work with your government so that we can empower the younger people by hiring them to work with us, by training them so that they can become the leaders in this industry, so that they can export even their own expertise across Africa. Our ambition for this project is to create a pool of local expert so that our people can evolve from here to manage major hotel brands across Africa,” he said.
Explaining the nature of the partnership between Anambra and Golden Tulip, the Chairman of Anambra State Investment Promotion and Protection Agency (ANSIPPA), Igwe Cyri Nwabunwanne Enweze said the company would operate and manage the hotel for a period of 10 years renewable after the first 5 years term.
He expressed hope that when fully operational, the hotel would promote urban development and boost revenue generation, create approximately 300 direct jobs and 1,200 indirect jobs and stimulate tourism and enhance the social capital of Anambra State.