IN an effort to check air ticket fraud, the National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies, NANTA, has taken a bold step towards sanitizing the travel and tours industry by initiating a project tagged, “Travel Practitioners Identification Project”, aimed at checking activities of fraudulent illegal travel and tour operators in the country.
President of the National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies, NANTA, Mr. Bankole Bernard, who disclosed the initiative to industry stakeholders at the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) Annex, Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos yesterday while presenting the “Travel Practitioners Identification Project” said it was “aimed at sanitising the travel agencies downstream sector.” Bernard said the initiative would ensure that every travel and tour operator, whether owner or employee of travel agency must have identity card with Unique Identification Number(UIN).
He also said a database of travel agencies and their personnel would be created to facilitate identification of genuine members.
According to the NANTA President, this project became necessary following a series of negative happenings and reports about the fraudulent activities of some travel agencies, stressing that this would assist government agencies, airlines and other stakeholders to identify genuine travel agencies operating in the country and prevent unsuspecting air traveling public from being swindled.
Bernard who disclosed that 90 per cent of the estimated 6,000 travel agencies in the country were not registered with NANTA, lamented that the economic situation in the country had further compounded the situation, pointing out that “when people lose their jobs today, the first thing they do is to quickly go into travel business creating the impression that travel agency business is for every Dick, Tom and Harry”. He cited the case of a lady travel agent who defrauded unsuspecting Nigerian travellers of more than N56 million and this has compelled passengers to now go straight to airlines to purchase their tickets as they “cannot differentiate between the real, fake travel agencies”.
He said, “We are tired of how the industry is and we want to move to the next level. That is why we are here. That is why we called this stakeholders meeting today. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) are here. We want your support and contributions to this project and also move the industry forward. We will be creating a better future not only for ourselves but for generations yet to come. We have not come here to tell you that we are experts and that we know everything but to tell you that we are trying to sanitise the downstream sector of the aviation industry, especially now that there is a provision in the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations (NCARs) that all travel agencies in the country must register with NANTA”.
Speaking also at the presentation, the Director General of NCAA, Capt. Usman Muktar, who was represented by NCAA Director of Air Transport Regulations(DATRs), Group Capt. Edem Oyo-Ita (retd), said that there are many fraudulent and fake practitioners in the system, adding that several instance abound where travel agents reap off passengers, which according to him is giving the genuine professionals bad name.
Oyo-Ita said, “When they brought the idea of sanitising the downstream in the aviation industry, we quickly embraced it because it is a laudable project. NCAA assures NANTA of support. It is going to be a win-win situation for everybody that is interested in making the downstream sector in the aviation industry grow.”
Also present at the stakeholders meeting were officials of IATA, NCAA, airlines, Global Distribution System(GDS),travel agencies among others.