The Managing Director of Nana Hotel and CEO of Seriki Alata Ventures, Mr. Olawale Seriki, has said many people do not understand what tourism is all about and that Nigeria has untapped potentials.
He said this recently in a chat with the Travellers Magazine. Seriki who is the publisher of Town and Country International Magazine, a tourism publication is also into the hospitality industry.
The history graduate of University of Lagos, started as a turnaround manager at Ikeja Central Hotel and the experience he garnered from there helped him to resuscitate Nana Hotel which was completely run down. According to him: “It was a forgotten stone but we made it a cornerstone. If you google Nana Hotel, Otta, it was formerly known as a bad place but we changed it to a good place and gave it a facelift.”
The hotel has a programme tagged: ‘An evening with an Icon’ which is fashioned after that of Nightshift Coliseum and has hosted a lot of dignitaries like Ken Caleb Olumese, Otunba Gani Adams, the Aare Ona Kakanfo, Mayor Akinpelu, Kunle Bakare among others.
He disclosed that Olumese was their first guest and he was hosted to his version of the Grand house reception. It was then that and people started going to the hotel.
He said: “We wanted to host the Governor of Kogi State but he made me to be on his resource team and we hosted him together. It was a power-packed resource team; it included Reuben Abati, Kayode Ajala, Kunle Bakare. That is why when I have my event, it has the resemblance of what happens at the Colliseum.”
The hotel has what it calls the Quadrangle which drives the co-relations machinery of the hotel and has been using it to host people. The idea is to use a big personality, who will draw in the crowd. He revealed that when they went to the Olota to host him, some people discouraged him but he later agreed.
Seriki said the recent award given by his organisation was an addition to the Grand reception, it was a three in one event.
We felt we should reward some people. So, we gave four monarchs; that is the Olota, the Oniwasimi Akamo, the Olu of Itori and the Ajana Oke Jana, the eminent persons award. We gave professionals who have excelled in their fields; Chief Osifeso, the City Development Advocate Award; Mr. Seyi Oyishoro, the publisher of Voice of Awori; Outstanding Media Person Award and Mrs Olufunke Olapade, who has a lounge on AIT road, Funky’s Lounge, one in Abeokuta, another one in Ifo, we gave her Woman of Excellence Award; we awarded the Seriki of Ota for promoting youth development. Then we did an induction into the Quadrangle Hall of Fame. We gave Mr. Dapo Olaniyan who is the publisher of Top News, former editor of Fame Magazine, Abayomi Oladapo who works with the Lagos State Government, we gave the Managing Director of Biscotech, the company behind JustRite, who has been our customer and a major contributor to the Quadrangle platform among others.
He hinted that the hotel would soon relocate to Lagos and that plans are on to host Anthony Joshua at their new location.
He said year 2020 was hard for the hospitality industry as entertainment was also grounded but this year, they would go beyond the boundary to try and push themselves to the forefront and be relevant in Africa and tourism because tourism is misunderstood by so many people.
He said: “For me, tourism is generating traffic and interest for locations; and making sure that people travel, because travel is part of stress management and education. For instance, when I used to cover events outside Lagos, I was always exited. I was at Argungu festival, I have never seen it before so, I was excited; and the same with Calabar carnival. So, travel is a major part of tourism.
One time we went to cover Food and Music Festival by Ibtonia Waybako. At the press conference, they served sausage rolls and so on then someone said, ‘what kind of rubbish is this? You say you are doing African Food and Music festival, and you are bringing this; where is roasted plantain, groundnut, moimoi, pounded yam and all that?’ They said, ‘this is snack’ If you have to do our snack, do kuli kuli and local snacks.
Tourism is not about beer and all that. At the Calabar Carnival, I saw that most of the ladies there were not from Calabar. Even the bands, Master Blaster, and the likes, they came from different locations. I sat at 9/11, I saw all the trucks moving; they had a generator on each truck with a DJ, we had fun, that is why Calabar Carnival keeps waxing stronger. Lagos Carnival is also trying but it does not have that vibe. We have not tapped into our tourism potentials.
People have turned tourism to contract, but it is not a contract.