Expert Weighs Impact of COVID-19 on Travellers

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A Nigeria- based travelling company,Apeiron Global, has weighed the impact of COVID-19 on Nigerian travellers, just as it urged traveller to remain positive minded in the midst of the pandemic.

Chief Executive Officer of the company, Folasade Opaleye, while addressing the press recently, stated that the travel industry was one of the most hit by the pandemic, leaving several gaps that are being battled by travel operators and travellers.

She said, “One major impact of COVID-19 is limited access to some countries. According to Wikipedia, as of 02 July 2019, Nigerian citizens had visa-free or visa on arrival access to 45 countries and territories, ranking the Nigerian passport 98th in terms of travel freedom according to the Henley Passport Index.

“However, that number had shrunk in no time. Here are a few countries open to Nigerian Travelers: UAE, South Africa, Tanzania, Kanya, Maldives, Ghana, Tanzania, UK, US, Turkey, and a couple of others.

“Another major impact is the burden of conducting the COVID-19 test multiple times. Apart from the time and stress, the financial implication is also something that has increased the average cost of travel as it’s now a mandatory requirement in most countries globally.

“Some of the above-mentioned countries do not require travelers to have the test result before departing Nigeria. However, should travelers be flying certain airlines, the test result is a major requirement”.

Opaleye noted also the cost of mandatory COVID-19 has added additional cost burden for travellers. “The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control( NCDC), has mandated that travelers arriving in Nigeria must have tested negative for COVID-19 by PCR in the country of departure pre-boarding. The PCR test must be within 120 hours before departure and preferably within 72 hours pre-boarding. A repeat PCR test is also conducted 7 days after arrival. Bear in mind that these tests are not free.

“Here is a good example; Traveling to Dubai via Emirates, a Negative PCR Test Result which costs N 50,400 is required. Before departing Dubai back to Nigeria, another Negative PCR Test which costs about 250ED is needed to board. In the same light, before boarding, it is mandatory to schedule and pay for the third test which is to be done within 7days after arrival.

“This costs another N 50,400. Asides from the fact that a minimum of 2 tests is required, each traveler spends approximately N 140,000 on COVID-19 testing alone. This is now a new addition when calculating the total cost of making an international trip, increasing the financial burden greatly.

“After getting tests done, there could be delays in getting the results within the time frame advised by the country of arrival or departure. Ideally, test results should be out without 24 to 48 hours, but travelers have experienced massive delays resulting to them having to move their flights as the airlines will not board without a test result. This means that there is need for ticket date change. Yet again, there is usually costs attached to this.”

The travel expert also worried that forex scarcity is rubbing off negatively on travel activities.

“Travel transaction is majorly denominated in dollars. This means the cost of travel has skyrocketed for Nigerians. Travelers now have to change more Naira for Dollar. The current Naira rate to Dollars is N485= $1, in the parallel market. So, if an average cost of a Dubai Trip was N500,000, its now faring for an average of N 560,000.

“The impact of COVID-19 on Nigerian Travelers is a cause for major concern, and as we are getting accustomed to the new normal, we need to be aware that it is going to take some more effort, including financial, to make a successful trip. Notwithstanding, we remain positive, that there will be a safe landing,” she pointed out.