The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) is to partner the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) in an effort to jumpstart domestic tourism in the country. The collaboration is aimed at encouraging more Nigerians to fly to various tourism destinations around the country rather than travel abroad for their holidays.
Chairman of AON, Captain Nogie Meggison made this known during a courtesy visit to the newly appointed Director General of the NTDC, Mr. Folorunso Folarin Coker in his office in Abuja recently.
He noted that aviation and tourism are two sides of the same coin which go hand-in-hand and both sectors could be developed by one another in a mutually beneficial manner.
Meggison therefore called for synergy between the airlines and the various facets of the tourism industry in a bid to stimulate domestic tourism.
â€œIt is a well known fact that airlines help to build tourism. A clear example was during the closure of Abuja airport; many of the leading hotels in Abuja lost a lot of patronage from about 80 percent occupancy to well below 20 percent. This also had a ripple effect on car hire and taxi operators, restaurants, a drop in taxes and had an effect on the GDP and several other businesses in the service industry. This underscores how important aviation is to tourism and hospitality,â€ Capt. Meggison said.
Responding, the DG of NTDC noted that Nigeria was blessed with so many tourist sites, festivals, events and places of interests which people would love to go, adding that this could be achieved if the tourism and hospitality sectors in partnership with the entertainment sector work in synch with the airlines.
â€œFamilies can take advantage of various festivals, carnivals and events around the country the year round to go on holiday and relax and have fun. For instance, hotels can partner with airlines and the tourism authority to arrange package tours for couples, family or groups to visit the Calabar Carnival or Obudu Cattle Ranch, or spend a weekend for two in Abuja, or go and enjoy the scenery at the Eyo Festival in Lagos. Corporate organisations can also hold their Retreats or annual Conventions at many of these destinations,â€ Mr. Coker noted.
Agreeing with the NTDC boss, Meggison pledged that such a partnership would be a win for Nigeria and a win-win situation for the airlines and the tourism and hospitality sector whereby the airlines would be able to attract more passengers.