The booming economic activities in Edo State coupled with growing investor confidence have pushed up air passenger traffic to the state while owners of major hotels in Benin City are reporting oversubscription for their accommodation facilities.
Hotel owners, tour operators and other practitioners in the tourism and hospitality industry said the positive trend is attributable to the wide range of economic activities such as the development of Benin Industrial Park, the Gelegele Seaport project, the 450 Edo-Azura Independent Power Project and the various road construction work across the state.
Chairman, Golden Tulip Essential Hotel, Benin City, Mr. Edobor Ozakpolor, said “the current frenzy in the sector can be traced to the emerging socio-economic opportunities being created by the governor of the state.
“Hotel accommodation before now was driven by seasonal activities like cultural and political events. But what we have now is a surge and it started since the governor’s inauguration. We thought activities would nose-dive after the inauguration but the tempo has been sustained by visitors and contractors who are seeking jobs and businesses.
“In air travels, bookings have increased to 99 per cent as all the airlines that operate the Lagos-Benin route come into Benin City fully booked. This was not the trend before this administration.
“We have moved from weekend to daily business. When we ask some of our guests what they are doing in the state, they always tell us that they are here to see the state governor. Some guests are impressed by the ease with which they can see the governor and seal business deals, because of the reforms in the system.”
Mr Ozakpolor added that “the improvement in security is also boosting the confidence of our people who now come to town often. People feel safer in the city now and we are aware that the security architecture of the state has been interrogated and improved upon. The impact of the improvement is being felt in the sector as there is a direct relationship between the hospitality industry and security.”
Osazuwa Ehiorobo, owner of The Hamptons Travel Inn, on Boundary Road, Benin City, said “more people are coming into the state now with improved security. The number of contractors that we receive at our facility is on the increase. The governor is attracting more people to the state with his work in the road sector and the development of the industrial park and other projects in the state.”
Mr Ehiorobo urged hotel owners to take advantage of the emerging business climate by improving their services.
“Some of the factors that can keep guests in your hotel include your ability to provide steady power, suitability of your accommodation, the environment, and the security in the city,” he added.
Mr Julius Ode, another practitioner said: “the traffic is unprecedented at least in our recent history. We used to have such high volume of requests for lodging, tickets and other services when there are political campaigns and rallies, sporting activities and cultural events like the coronation anniversary of the Oba of Benin, which are usually seasonal.
“The trend we are witnessing now is sustained and the positive figures are growing. I interface with hotel managers and other service providers in the sector regularly and we are delighted at the influx of people prospecting for business in Edo State.”
Ode maintained that “the security infrastructure in the state has been enhanced as police presence is felt everywhere in the city now.”
He said “the number of flights has increased from the one flight per day we used to have to four flights on the average daily and three flights, weekend.
“The airport has become a beehive of socio-economic activities and the planned expansion of the airport to international standard will further boost business activities in the state.”
He noted that the state is also attracting its share of the entertainment industry gains, with several movies premiering in the state.
“Event centers are springing up in several parts of the city and my findings show that the state needs more of such centres to meet the increasing demand for decent event places.”
He added: “Things are looking good in the tourism, hospitality and entertainment industries in the state and with Governor Godwin Obaseki’s massive investment in the road sector, things will get better.
“Taxi drivers are making money from their business because roads in the city are being fixed and with more youths coming into the industry, the lesser the crime rate in the state.”