The National Association of Nigeria Travel Agents (NANTA) has started moves to make government disenfranchise illicit travel agency operators who are not registered with the association and also not to be recognised by the International Air Travel Association (IATA) by ensuring they do not have access to Global Distribution System (GDS).
NANTA said these illicit operators diminish the image of travel agents because they defraud travellers and disobey the rules which guide the activities of travel agencies in Nigeria.
This was made known by the President of NANTA, Mr. Bankole Bernard when he met with officials of airlines that operate in Nigeria, travel agents and officials of IATA.
Bernard said the illegal activities of these non-IATA travel agents have adversely affected the downstream sector of the industry, alleging that they rip off customers and also erode the integrity of the sub-sector.
â€œThey can come and buy tickets from the IATA registered agents and because they are not accountable to anyone, they can afford to do anyhow. Even after collecting money from the traveller they might give him the ticket. You will see the reservation but you will not see the ticket. That is why we are canvassing that people should patronise NANTA recognised agents. These people damage the names of the genuine travel agents and tarnish the image of the industry,â€ Bernard said.
After the meeting with the stakeholders, the NANTA President said that the nefarious activities of these illegal operators also affect the revenues of the airlines.
â€œThe thing there is that as the President of NANTA I looked at it and I said, look, we are dying and all of us are keeping quiet and I said, this thing must not continue. The first thing I did was to form industry working group, which I selected top agencies and some small ones. I requested that we should gather and when we gathered we saw that they were all bleeding.
â€œThey are bleeding in the sense that they are losing their business and tomorrow is uncertain. Their businesses may collapse tomorrow. But they are not talking to anybody about it and they were just smiling; but their businesses are dying. So when I gathered them together everybody barred his mind. So it was when I realised that the problem is bigger that what I imagined that I decided to invite these airlines,â€ the NANTA President added.
He said that the association will need the support of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to actualise the goal of tackling the malaise in the downstream sub-sector of the industry.
â€œNCAA being the government representative can make local laws that will be used to stop these illegal operators. So we are going back to NCAA to go and meet them so that we can stop the access of GDS to non-IATA agents. In that way, we will reduce the fraud by 40 percent. Because the GDSs are making money they just give access to everybody and these illicit operators are abusing the usage.â€