Some pensive over Skylight Hotel’s impact

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5 star Skylight Hotel (Photo: Anteneh Aklilu)

Some hotel owners have expressed concern over the attention being given to Ethiopian Airlines’ Skylight Hotel.
Walking distance from Bole Airport, the state of the art hotel cost USD 65 million.
Some hotel owners and others in hospitality related businesses argue that government owned businesses like Ethiopian Airlines, shouldn’t get involved in hotels because the private sector is capable of excelling in the sector and small and medium sized hotels could suffer.
At a meeting organized by the International Finance Corporation, a private wing of the World Bank participants said the Airlines’ involvement in hospitality would negatively impact the industry.
However, a prominent hotel owner with experience during the previous hotel boom said that their claim is baseless.
He said that there are 11,000 hotels rooms in the country. “I do not understand why the private sector is anxious about the Ethiopian Skylight Hotel when it only has 373 rooms,” he told Capital.
“We have bigger things to worry about than the new state owned hospitality facility,”
The pomp and circumstance surrounding the Ethiopian Skylight Hotel, managed by Chinese hospitality players is unprecedented in Ethiopia. The closest thing is the luxurious Sheraton Addis which was built two decades earlier.
“I have worked in hotels for close to 13 years but I couldn’t build a hotel that large and fancy. This creates a positive image of Ethiopia and benefits our hotels as well,” he argued.
“In the past two decades and particularly in the past ten years many hotels and international brands opened their doors but there has not been this much investment in a facility since Sheraton Addis which was built at a cost of USD 200 million in 1998 and is owned by Sheik Mohammed Ali Al Amoudi,” an expert said.
“The new ET hotel has enhanced the image and the capacity of the city to handle the hospitality business more than before,” the expert added.
Ethiopian Airlines is using the local hotel for its travelers’ transit. Some in the hospitality industry argue that if ET operates its own luxury hotel that travelers may not stay at their hotels. However, others say that the Skylight Hotel is one among many hotels available in Addis Ababa.
“The hotels wont lose business because the number of rooms at Skylight is limited,” a hotel owner said.
According a two-year-old survey from the Addis Ababa Hotel Owners Association occupancy rates in the capital are about 67 percent.
The association says finding skilled labor continues to be a major challenge for the nation’s hotels.
Benyam Bisrat, the owner of Jupiter Hotels and leader of the association, said that the sector needs a facility to train professionals. He said that when new facilities join the hospitality business they take professionals from other hotels because there are not enough skilled workers. He said that the hotel owners need to focus on producing professionals rather than worrying about new hotels. “I have spoken with Tewolde Gebremariam, CEO of ET Group, about training professional hotel staff,” he told Capital.
“During the inaugural ceremony Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said Ethiopian Airlines must improve their aviation training center to meet university level standards and this would be a good opportunity to include training for hospitality professionals so I have raised this issue to the CEO,” Benyam said.