The National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA) has said that travel agents made $1.4 billion (N503.3 billion) from tickets for foreign airlines operating in the country in 2017.
NANTA’s president, Mr. Bankole Bernard, who disclosed this in Lagos, attributed the record sale to improved capacity by a couple of airlines as well as upward review of the official exchange rate for the aviation industry from N306 to N359.5 per dollar.
Despite the challenges of foreign exchange, stuck funds and the six-week closure of the Abuja airport last year notwithstanding, Bernard said the airlines relatively picked up.
He also said the there were pointers that that “there is a lot of money in the travel business to attract banks, agents hence the need to curb faking in the industry.
Consequently, he said the association was working in partnership with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to check the activities of unregistered travel agencies which often engage in sharp practices.
Under the new arrangement which takes off in March, illegal travel agencies, agents and ticket-selling banks are to face prosecution.
“A lot of them out there are not travel agencies or agents but simply there to swindle unsuspecting travellers. So, people get to pay for ticket only to find out at the airport that they have been scammed. And instead of calling names, they will label all travel agents as thieves. That is how bad it has been.
“We, at NANTA, will be most delighted to see the identification scheme come to reality when it is launched in March for registered operators only.”
He said 6, 000 travel agencies recognised by NANTA only constitute 10 per cent of practising agencies in the country.
In her remarks, the vice president of the association, Ms. Lola Adewole, said the first point of contact for foreigners coming into the country are the travel agents, hence the need to sanitise the sector adding that the NANTA Act was part of efforts by the current leadership to santise the industry.