By bChinedu Eze
The President of National Association of Nigerian Travel Agents (NANTA), Bankole Bennard said that members of the organisation sold tickets worth about N503 billion in 2017.
Bennard said that it showed that travel agents contribute significantly to the nationâ€™s GDP, which is the downstream of the aviation industry, noting that the sub-sector was pivotal in the economy of Nigeria but regretted that the National Bureau of Statistics does not capture this huge market in its records.
The NANTA President said the humongous amount of money generated from these sales gives inkling to how much the airlines made from Nigeria and how much was repatriated from the country.
Bennard made this known yesterday when he held a press conference to announce the forthcoming launch of Nigeria Travel Practitioners Identification Card (NTPIC) on June 26, 2018 at Land Mark Event Centre, Lekki, Lagos.
He said the identity card was necessary to put an end to the fraud worth billions of naira by people who impersonate travel agents and use it to defraud travelers who pay money to them without getting any ticket.
â€œWe are not working in isolation of this. We are working with the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, (NCAA). NANTA works in collaboration with some other travel agencies around Africa. We work with Kenya Association of Travel Agencies (KATA) to cover East Africa, Association of South African Travel Agencies (ASATA) to cover South, Morocco Travel Agency in the North and NANTA in the West. When this was mentioned to KATA, they said it was a laudable idea and they too will implement it,â€ he said.
The NANTA president also said the association decided to embark on the project to ensure the government understood the worth of the sector and to sanitise the industry of all fraudsters and fraudulent activities.
â€œWe realised that some people now use travel agencies as a means of human trafficking and defrauding intending passengers. We are saying we are not going to let this continue but we are going to show to the rest of the world that a private sector can get itself well organised and other sectors can learn from it.
â€œIf we are able to know the total number of travel agencies in Nigeria, empirical data can be drawn from it and government can plan effectively for this sector. The government of today is showing a lot of interest in small and medium enterprises and we are part of it. We are doing all these because we are concerned about bringing sanity to the industry which we find ourselves,â€ he added.
Bernard explained that if the private sector could organise itself to implement a project as important as this, then it deserved support from everyone.