Expo Magazine recently met the Proprietor and CEO of Dohas Hotel in Bo, Mr Saleh Yayah, and obtained the following exclusive interview from him on the history and services of his hotel as well as challenges facing the hospitality industry in Bo

CEO of DOHAS Saleh Yayah


Expo Magazine: Tell us about how you started this hotel and your motivation?

Saleh Yayah:  Thanks for your question. I started on a small scale and the idea was to improve on standards of hotels in Bo as it is the second city of Sierra Leone. I had the option of doing it in Freetown or in Makeni but I prioritized Bo because this is my home. Bo was really challenged after the war in terms of good hotels


Expo Magazine:  When did it start and how many rooms were there?

Saleh Yayah: I started the work in 2011but it picked up in 2012 really. There were 28 rooms then and the expansion started gradually which has given us 50 rooms with an addition of 14 now making it a total of 64 rooms. The additional 14 rooms are in building on another land opposite the hotel. My only issue now is having a freehold of this land because it was leased.


Expo Magazine:  Are you positive that it will fall through?

Saleh Yayah: Yes! If the price is attractive, I will not waste time in acquiring it.


Expo Magazine:  So how long have you been in the hotel business and what is the rating?

Saleh Yayah: I have been in it for a little over 12 years now and my hotel rating is that of between 3 and 4 star which is according to the National Tourist Board of Sierra Leone. And I must hasten to say that hotels in the capital, Freetown are having unfair advantage over us in the provinces. Customers are ready to pay so much for hotels in Freetown but when they come down to the province, they want to offer pittance which is affecting our business. Overhead costs keep rising especially fuel and generator maintenance although I must commend government for significantly improving electricity supply in Bo. And we need government regulations to ensure that our business is profitable.


Expo Magazine:  What recommendations if any would you like to make to government for the good of the hotel industry?

Saleh Yayah:  Government should convene a meeting of all hotel owners so we all agree on a standard cost. We don’t want other hoteliers undercutting our prices. This undercutting of prices is affecting our business, especially here in Bo.


Expo Magazine:  Give us an idea of what makes Dohas Hotel unique?

Saleh Yayah:  I don’t want to call it unique, but I will say emphatically that I will not allow depreciation of my existing values; standard towels, beddings, running water, internet, swimming pool, fresh food. I maintain them which has kept my business going. My customer base has expanded and is very huge which includes local, national and international NGOs such as UNICEF, World Vision, OSIWA, MRCG, Red Cross, World Hope International as well some ministries, departments, and agencies.


Expo Magazine:  What about your staff capacity?

Saleh Yayah:  I have well trained staff and they are disciplined and offer the best. I join them myself sometimes to make sure they prepare the best food.


Expo Magazine:  What about the idea of having an association of hotel owners to  interface with the tourism ministry and NRA to help tourism in Bo?

Saleh Yayah: We have an association whose executive was elected in the presence of the then tourism minister. I think it should not only work for hoteliers but for every sector in the hospitality industry. The association has its challenges which are affecting business. They have not been responding to request of members. Also, we need buses to take guests and tourists to every corner of the country so they would view touristic sites around the country. So many other proposals have been put across to improve on Sierra Leone’s tourism but unfortunately not much has been done on this front.


Expo Magazine:  During the COVID-19, government came in to provide some money to cushion the impact on employees in the hospitality industry and there was some sort of tax break to support your industry, right?

Saleh Yayah: Yes, 10 of my staff members benefited and the others who did not benefit were provided for by myself. An amount of two to three million Leone’s was given to my staff members. I applaud the government of Sierra Leone for making that move. The issue of withholding tax being released was however not adhered to by businesses.


Expo Magazine:  Going forward, what would you like to see change in your industry?

Saleh Yayah: You cannot run a business without loans, so we want to see loans given by banks with minimal interest rates. As I speak the banks are taking interest rates of about 30% to 35% which in my opinion should be reduced to like 10 to 15%. And government should help the hospitality sector to make sure there is no delay in making sure businesses, NGOs, and other partners pay us for our services without delay. And the industry needs to be regulated for profitability. And for them in the south-east government needs to create the enabling environment for the hotel industry to thrive by subsidizing some of the running costs. And finally the marginalizing of our regional association must stop especially in Bo which is the second city.


Copyright –Published in Expo Magazine, February Edition, Vol.2, No.2, 2024 (ExpoTimes News – Expo Media Group (