Ethiopian Airlines has continued to extend its tentacles from aviation to tourism business as it announce the construction of a twin hotel in Addis Ababa, capital city of Ethiopia, which is put at US$91 million. The first is a 637-key five-star hotel near the Millennium Hall and will feature among others a duty-free shop, cultural shop, an aviation museum and parking lots, built on a 22,410 square metres plot of land. The second is also on the same location, bringing the total number of rooms to be operated by the airlines on completion to 1,110.
The two hotels will cover a combined land mass of 42,410 square metres. Completion of the project is expected within two and half years after awarding the contract. Ethiopian Airlines believes that the hotel will provide a good environment for tourists besides accommodating passengers during transits, layovers or technical delays. Established in 1946, Ethiopian Airlines has 36 load, 95 global and 19 household goals. As of April 30, 2017, the organisation’s staff strength was more than 13, 484.
The airline is one of the most profitable airlines in the continent of Africa and has won many accolades in the recent past, including African Airline of the Year in 2015 and 2016 by the African Aviation. In 2014 it was ranked the largest in Africa in revenue by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). It reported a 70 per cent jump in full year 2016 net profit to $265 million boosted by an 18 per cent increase in passenger numbers over the period.
AMAKA AMATOKWU-NDEKWU: Pyne Awards is to celebrate unsung faces in tourism business
Mrs. Amaka Amatokwu-Ndekwu is the founder and president of The Women in Hospitality Nigeria, a thoroughbred hospitality professional, she speaks to ANDREW IRO OKUNGBOWA on her trajectory and her pet project, The Pyne Project/Awards, which maiden awards event holds next month in Lagos
Mrs. Amaka Amatokwu – Ndekwu, hails from Delta State but her world presently straddles between Nigeria and United States of America. She is widely read, with an accelerated management programme certificate focused in Business, Management, Marketing, and Related Support Services from Lagos Business School.
She also studied Management at the European School of Economics, London, United Kingdom and Accountancy at Madonna University, Okija, Anambra State as well as obtained a certification from ESSEC Business School on The Fundamentals of Hotel Distribution, among others. Although quite youthful, full of life and energy, with the world of hospitality under her feet, she has within over a decade of stepping her foot into the hospitality world qualified to be described as a thoroughbred hospitality professional as she has a deep seated passion and commitment towards the sector. She aptly described herself in this manner:
‘‘I am an experienced hospitality professional with a demonstrated history of tenacity, strong drive, passion and leadership. Experienced in hotel start- ups, customer service, operations, food and beverage, front office, event and market planning, hospitality management and career counselling.’’
Her track records include serving as a general manager in indigenously owned hotel brands and as an assistant general manager in international hotel brands in Nigeria. Young Amatokwu – Ndekwu is currently the founder and president of The Women in Hospitality Nigeria, an organisation she says has ‘‘a vision to change and improve the status of women in the industry.’’
As part of the mission of this organisation, she has created a project known as The Pyne Project/Awards, which according to her: ‘‘Celebrates growth, hard work and success of all stakeholders in the hospitality and tourism industry.’’ She and her team would be debuting with an award event on Friday June 29 slated for Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos.
She is also into mentorship programmes and seeks to inspire young industry professionals through career counselling under Rehoboth Recruiters, a leading hospitality recruitment firm based in both Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). She once earned nomination as ‘hospitality personality of the year.’
This young and pretty hospitality professional, who is just coming into her own, certainly has the future to content with and a force to be reckoned with in hospitality, as her sight is set on conquering the global hospitality industry and not just Nigeria or Africa, which today serve as her oasis.
She speaks of her interesting upbringing, paying glowing tributes to her lovely and devoted mother, who in her words made the greatest sacrifice ever, including sacrificing her personal freedom and ambition to ensure that her sibling and herself got the best of this world: ‘‘My upbringing shaped me to become the strong and determined woman I am today. We had a simple, firm and happy home.
I was nurtured by a strong, passionate and determined mother. I watched the way she would react to situations; the way she would fix problems and the way she would care about others. ‘‘She always explained to us the benefits of succeeding in everything you do.
She was very close to my sister and I; that kept us together and open to each other. I watched the way she would strategise, plan and execute even if it had to be a long-term goal. It gave me some form of excitement when I saw it all come together. ‘‘I grew up knowing that she stuck to her good morals and values and those motivated me to do same and even better. She shielded us a lot but never hesitated in carrying us along with decisions she had to make for the family.
So, I would say growing up with an amazing mum shaped me.’’ Added to the growing influence of her mother whom one could rightly described as the fabled ‘Mother hen,’ are such elements as ‘‘family, religious belief and morals, hard-work (failing wasn’t an option),’’ which she discloses influenced and shaped the young professional and caring woman that she has become today.
It is not surprising, therefore, to note that her life’s philosophy is: “Don’t wait for the right moment to start, start and make each mom e n t right,” a d d – ing that ‘ ‘ t h i s philosophy has encouraged me to start and finish whatever journey I embark on.’’
She has no doubt had an eventful and fulfilling career while in Nigeria, stretching to about a decade, with the high point being perhaps her stint as the general manager of a 94 room boutique hotel, The Sojourner, Lagos, owned by Genesis.
But just when she thought her dreamed career was already falling into place and savouring all the elements that came with it that her emotional needs got the better of her, as she was swept off her feet, in her words, ‘‘by an amazing man who gave me a good reason to move and start afresh.’’
She got married to her ‘Alpha man’ and relocated to the United States of America last year with him, where she lives presently and shuttles to Nigeria and other parts of the world in pursuit of her career dream.
‘‘I’m trying to fit into my new environment and new system. I am taking some time off working for other people to start my own long- term initiatives (Women in Hospitality Nigeria and The Pyne Awards). I am also currently working on some certifications in Hospitality Management,’’ she reveals with some level of happiness.
Motivation for The Pyne award
‘‘Operating in the hospitality and tourism industry for nine years, I saw how under appreciated the major stakeholders were. I saw how underrated the industry seen to be in Nigeria.
I always felt the people behind that good service needed motivation or like they say now an accolade for doing a good job. ‘‘In my own perception tips were not enough, they needed to be praised and motivated publicly.
Now brands and owners may be celebrated all the time but what about the general managers, or the chefs, the housekeeping staff, the sales managers, the travel agents, or the tour operator, and the others?
‘‘Who is celebrating them?’’
Based on this development, Amatokwu – Ndekwu harped on the desirability of celebrating the faces behind the ‘mask’ of hospitality business, hence the creation of The Pyne Awards, which she says would be a yearly event to celebrate success, hard-work, growth and excellence of all hospitality and tourism stakeholders operating in Nigeria.
‘‘The Industry Stars awardees will become Ambassadors of The Pyne Awards/ Project, they will be involved in our mentorship programmes for the year 2018- 2019,’’ she says of those to be honoured at the maiden session of the awards.
It may appear that she is walking a lonely path, however, she discloses that she is encouraged by the positive reactions from many of the industry people who have signed on to the project and seen it as a welcome and salutatory event. She realises the tendency for many to dismiss the award event as one too many in the industry, however, she says hers is very distinguished:
‘‘There is a big difference between this award and the others. The awards are not bought by anyone, it’s strictly merited and the exciting part is that it involves the employees.
‘‘The awards give every major stakeholder in the industry a chance to be celebrated and motivated. Imagine working for 15 years in an industry and not receiving any recognition either publicly 0r in private.’’ Adding: “Biko (Please) everyone deserves an accolade.”
Putting together an event of this magnitude, especially when you don’t have any financial backing from neither the government nor the money bags except from the industry people who believe in your dream, could be very challenging, she admits, as she exclaims thus: ‘‘Wow, organising this award made me more aware of how underrated our industry is.
I tried seeking support from major companies from other industries and I got turned down but wasn’t discouraged. We need to change this perception, it hurts me badly. ‘‘I remember one of them telling me they had no provision for the hospitality industry. Meanwhile, 90% of their earnings come through the hospitality industry.’’
Sense of fulfillment
Despite these challenges and even the past frustrations that had dogged her heels, Amatokwu – Ndekwu, certainly is a fulfilled young professional, as she enthuses:
‘‘I am so fulfilled, I have an amazing family and friends, I’m proud of the woman I have become. ‘‘Yes, I definitely want more but I’m happy and grateful for the graces and opportunities. I’m a quiet bulldozer, so watch out for me.’’
Turkish Airlines hosts 2nd Black Sea MENA summit
The increasing growth rate of tourism and investment potential in the Black Sea region was highlighted at the recently held second edition of the yearly Black Sea MENA Tourism and Investment Summit in Ordu, Turkey, hosted by Turkish Airlines, the national carrier of Turkey.
Speaking at the event, the Vice President of Sales, Middle East and Cyrus, Turkish Airlines, Muhammed Faith Durmaz, disclosed that the tourism and investment traffic in the region had grown by 79 per cent since 2015, calling on tourists and investors to take advantage of the unique tourist attractions and investment opportunities of the region, flying on the wings of Turkish Airlines, which he said offers seamless connections to it. Over 200 representatives from about 15 countries in the MENA region took part in the summit.
Durmaz announced the opening of the new Istanbul Airport, which is billed to take place in the last quarter of this year. With traffic growing, the need for more wide body aircrafts will increase as the once completed airport will be able to accommodate 200 million passengers per year.
With open and direct routes from the Middle East to the Black Sea and Mediterranean regions, the Middle East has become one of Turkish Airlines’ most profitable regions to date. In the first quarter of this, increase in demand and total number of passengers was 22% higher than the same period of last year.
The total number of passengers from the Middle East region was 5.6 million last year. Furthermore, during the first quarter the total Load Factor in Middle East flights improved by 6.5 points. And the International Load Factor increased by 7 points, recording the highest load factor in Turkish Airlines history for the first quarter.
Durmaz said: “Our network expansion in 2017 has been a pivotal step in supporting the increasing customer demand in all our markets, including the Middle East.
Through new and innovative features, as well as having a growing fleet, our aim is to provide customers with the best possible options, both in terms of new destinations and innovative products and services.”
W HOSPITALITY HOTEL PIPELINE REPORT: Marriott tops Africa’s hotel growth
Marriott International tops the list of hotels in Africa with the highest room planned for this year. This is according to the latest hotel pipeline survey conducted by Lagos – based W Hospitality Group, which over the years is noted for this most critical and influential report. According to a statement by Bench Events, organisers of the yearly Africa Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF), the report would be presented by the Managing Director of W. Hospitality Group, Trevor Ward, at this year’s AHIF conference, which is slated to hold in the first week of October in Nairobi, Kenya.
Marriott International leads the chart with a development pipeline of 93 new hotels comprising 17,708 rooms, with almost 50% of those rooms – 8,587, already under construction.
On the number two spot is the Hilton Hotel chain with 6,352 rooms under construction, with 54 hotels, bringing its total room number to 11, 528 while the Radisson Hotel Group is third with 4,840 rooms, 39 hotels and a total of 7, 868 rooms. Accor Hotels is placed fourth with 39 hotels, 3, 648 rooms under construction and total of 10, 059 rooms.
Next on the chart is Lourve Hotels Group with 2, 414 rooms under construction while Melia Hotels International has 1,935, Best Western Hotels and Resorts with 1, 552 rooms, Hyatt International with 1,188 rooms, Movenpick Hotels and Resorts with 1, 075 rooms and InterContinental Hotels Group with 856 rooms.
The W Hospitality Group ranking for individual hotel brands has Radisson Blu with the largest number of rooms under construction, beating the Hilton brand by over 300 rooms.
Hilton has two other brands in the top 10, Hilton Garden Inn and DoubleTree by Hilton – boosted by the chain’s US$50 million Hilton Africa Growth Initiative. This year’s pipeline report, now in its 10th year, has 41 contributors, reporting 418 deals with over 100 brands. Year-on-year performance for Africa in 2018 shows growth, but more muted than in recent years, with 25% growth in the number of pipeline rooms in 2015; 19% in 2016, and 13% in 2017, much the same as the 13.5 per cent growth in 2018.
The overall report indicated a healthy future. Notably, Mangalis, a new hotel brand launched in 2011, has already managed to build a significant pipeline, with 1,746 rooms in 14 hotels, growing the existing portfolio of 425 rooms in three hotels by more than four times. Currently five of the 14 hotels in the pipeline are under construction.
However, Ward sounded a note of caution, saying: “Of the total 76,322 rooms in the African pipeline, almost 34,000 rooms are said by the chains to have scheduled openings this year and in 2019.
The reality on ground, however, is that 4,000 of those rooms were not even under construction as at the time of our data collection – which was the first quarter of 2018.
It would not therefore be amiss of us to suggest that there is a degree of over-optimism on the part of the chains regarding their expansion plans.’’ Reacting to the report, which would elicit discussions during AHIF, the Managing Director of Bench Events, Matthew Weihs, said: “This report from W Hospitality Group contains the sort of hard data that serious investors want to see.
It, and other analyses from numerous expert advisers to the industry, will be the core content that makes AHIF a must-attend event, alongside unrivalled networking opportunities.” AHIF conference is scheduled to hold alongside the Magical Kenya Tourism Expo (MKTE), the largest travel trade show in East Africa.
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