Imo State Commissioner for Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts, Mazi Uche Ohia has disclosed that his ministry would soon begin issuance of operational licenses to all tourism and hospitality establishments in the state.

Ohia gave the hint at a meeting in his office with the Nigerian Hotel Association, Imo State Chapter.

He warned that tourism facilities that do not undergo recertification would face serious sanctions which include closure.

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The commissioner said, “Senator Hope Uzodimma, the Governor of Imo State, has directed that all tourism and hospitality establishments in the state be recertified.

“Our staff are presently in the field gathering data; they are courteous, conscious of the fact that the industry is ours to nurse and nurture.

“We need you to support the recertification exercise. Every hotel or tourism establishment that meets the compliance requirements will be issued an operational license in accordance with the law.

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“Whatever we can do to support the industry will start from a database. We must know how many rooms and what type of facilities there are in each hotel so that we can properly market Imo tourism to prospective visitors including conference planners as well as revenue agencies to reduce excessive tax assessment arising from estimation.

The commissioner said that hotel and hospitality establishment owners who sabotage efforts to collect data to classify hotels and hospitality establishments in the course of the recertification exercise will face consequences.

The commissioner charged the hotel owners to find ways to block all leakages and to check recycling of dubious and fraudulent staff.

 Regarding allegations of double taxation, Ohia disclosed that government was working towards a Tourism Summit where all MDAs that send notices to hotels would participate in order to harmonize issues. 

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Ohia explained, “the Hotel Occupancy and Consumption Tax is not a tax on the hotels but a tax on occupancy and on consumption.

He asserted that “It is a standard practice all over the world. Customers of any tourism facility have a small tax added to their bills. All tourism facilities should be consumption tax compliant.  Government needs revenue to fix roads and to sustain security.”

Earlier, the Chairman, Nigerian Hotels Association, Imo State Chapter, Mr Chima Chukwunyere, said the association was in the ministry to ask government to support the hotels to return the glory of the tourism industry in the state.

 He said the hospitality industry had been affected negatively due to COVID 19 pandemic and insecurity, hinting that some hotel owners were thinking of selling their hotels and relocating to invest in other states because of double taxation and harassment by revenue agents.

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Chukwunyere exonerated the state governor and Ministry of Tourism from the alleged illegal conducts stating that the General Manager of the agency that sealed the hotels had “condemned the attitude of his boys for over reacting by sealing hotels without court order”

He went further to narrate an incident where the Police, rather than arrest only a hotel guest indulging in drug abuse in a room, took away the receptionist for an offence committed by another person.

In his remarks, one of the hotel owners, Chief Ejike Okafor, appealed to government and its agencies to “stay action on all demand notices MDAs have given to us because it is difficult for us to pay our workers due to downturn in the industry”.

He commended efforts by the Ministry to compel all hotels to be registered with government


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