President of the Nationwide Affiliation of Nigerian Travel Businesses (NANTA), Bernard Bankole, on this interview with WOLE OYEBADE, attracts consideration to the perennial problem of fakery and air price ticket fraud in the business, however with a brand new initiative that can nip the nefarious actions in the bud. “Fake travel businesses, agents on the prowl”
You have been re-elected approximately months in the past for the 2d-time period as president of the affiliation. What used to be the first tenure in place of business like and what are your plans for the 2d trip?
The primary years of my tenure used to be now not simple however we have been in a position to center of attention on one very important factor. We embarked on developing consciousness for the affiliation that has been present for over forty years but it isn’t recognized via the executive or folks inside of the device. So, we had to create consciousness and this we didn’t most effective in the community but in addition across the world to the aspect that NANTA and the Global Air Shipping Affiliation (IATA) paintings intently in combination now.
NANTA has constructed a strong dating with the Affiliation of South African Travel Company (ASATA) and Kenya Affiliation of Travel Businesses (KATA). So, inside of Africa, NANTA has additionally won a degree of publicity and popularity. Inside of the years, it used to be extra of making consciousness and bringing extra of our participants onboard permitting them to have in mind a few crucial issues.
First is that NANTA is the umbrella frame for all travel businesses in Nigeria. 2d, NANTA is the downstream sector frame that may be chargeable for all travel businesses in Nigeria. Having recognized those, it makes it more uncomplicated for participants to start out associating extra with NANTA. We based the secretariat and make it extra colourful. We labored on our website online such that the cost of club subscription can also be performed on-line with out any person having to return to the secretariat.
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We be sure that all the 5 zones of NANTA – Western, Japanese, Northern zone, Abuja and Lagos – are all empowered and now waxing robust and our club stay expanding. We’ve got just about 7000 registered participants in NANTA and plenty of extra are nonetheless registering as a result of they consider in the management of the affiliation. They have got noticed that NANTA, as a frame, fights their lead to with the airways in addition to others inside of the business. We had cases have been banks have taken over issuance of tickets, which will have to be the number one responsibility of travel businesses in Nigeria. However because it stands these days, they have got corrected that and entire lot of them have stopped it.
Now, passengers are creating trust in shopping for tickets from travel businesses. Travel businesses are changing into extra of Basic Gross sales Businesses (GSAs) in Nigeria to a few airways. As an example, Kenya Airlines is now a GSA in Nigeria and it’s being operated via a travel company who’s a member of our affiliation. Similar factor with Delta Airways that may be a GSA in Nigeria. Ditto for British Airlines additionally.
Extra of the airways are starting to convert as GSAs in Nigeria. While you turn into a GSA, your value of operations reduces since you don’t want as many group of workers as issues are installed the palms of travel businesses to promote on behalf of the airways due to the fact that they see that we’ve got the capability to distribute on their behalf. All the ones adjustments and extra are noticed taking place underneath this management.
We’ve additionally been canvassing for the ease of having visa into Nigeria. Now, the u . s . a . has began issuing visa on arrival and that may be in reality serving to. I foresee in now not too far away long run that visa into Nigeria, for Africans, would possibly transform loose. With a purpose to lend a hand the united states and advertise brotherliness with the African nations. I heard a few days in the past that Ethiopia is prepared to enforce loose visa for all Africans. That may be the seat of the African Union. So, if Ethiopia can follow it, then I see extra African nations apply go well with. We’ve noticed Lagos appearing considerations that they need to be the selection vacation spot relating to tourism.
All of those we’ve accomplished beneath this management and they’re as a result of our clamouring for the issues which might be important for the business. So, through and massive, I will be able to say that NANTA has grown.
How critical an issue are the actions of fraudsters amongst your individuals?
In fact that the business is so porous and there is not any access or go out barrier. So, it has transform an all comers’ affair even for fraudsters. We realized that a few are even the use of travel company to hide up for human trafficking and defrauding proceeding passengers, bastardizing our names at the Embassies as a result of there is not any report of the actual practitioners.
Until date, we’re having incidences of fraudsters defrauding proceeding passengers to tens of millions of naira. We went to presidency to solicit give a boost to for the new ID card initiative, and we have been made to take into account that even the administrative center of Presidency used to be defrauded via travel company they usually later stuck the fellow in Benin.
We went to Kano to satisfy the Emir of Kano, most effective to discovered that considered one of his aides used to be if truth be told defrauded. The purpose is that they’re all over the place as a result of nobody has made transfer to arrest them. They have got noticed that there’s a vacuum and that’s what we’re approximately to near.
How do you wish to try this and while?
We now have checked out the entire topic, telling ourselves that the nice paintings we’ve performed in making NANTA a drive staff, through making sure that a few of the insurance policies of presidency are beneficial to the business, shall be defeated while a few of the individuals inside of the business don’t seem to be been checked. It’s primarily based on this that we’ve got presented an business Identity Card. It’s an business ID card now not NANTA card. It’s referred to as the Nigeria Travel Practitioners’ Identity Card (NTPIC).
This card used to be an concept that we labored intently with all the stakeholders in the business. The one distinction is that it’s NANTA that may be spearheading it. In this ID card, we were given the overseas and native airways, the GDS networks, for issuance of tickets additionally concerned. We were given the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (their criminal and finance groups) concerned, to make certain that we’re in keeping with what we do, in order that no member is feeling exploited at the finish.
So, the ID card we’re introducing and set for release on June 26, 2018 in Lagos, which we are hoping the Vice President will honour our invitation to release, will develop into the approach issues are performed amongst our individuals. The already present trust that the airways have in us and on this management of mine, we are not looking for it to erode. We’re making sure that the ID card can be a way to checkmate fraudulent other folks on the way to see that the business is booming and can need to come and faucet into it to derail the just right paintings that has been placed into it. We’re the use of the ID card to regulate what’s being performed via our participants.
You stated that is an business-primarily based ID card. What did you imply? Does it imply that non-NANTA practitioners can follow for this card?
The item is that may be it an business ID card. Non-NANTA practitioners can follow for the ID card handiest after they have got registered with NANTA. The travel company will check in first as a NANTA member then the ID card will probably be issued to people of that travel company. You will have to needless to say NANTA is the recognized frame for all the travel businesses in Nigeria. We’re recognized through the NCAA that statutorily regulates and oversees all the actions in the air travel sector in Nigeria.
What occurs to non-NANTA individuals that do travel and excursion?
They have got a decision on this topic. First, allow me say that folks incessantly combine issues up. Relating to excursion, there’s what’s referred to as inbound tourism and outbound tourism. Inbound vacationers are the ones coming to Nigeria, to whom we need to promote Nigerian household tourism. The ones ones are being treated by way of a few travel businesses and the Nigerian Affiliation of Excursion Operators (NATOP) participants. Travel businesses have their companies in several scope. There are a few that center of attention on each inbound and outbound. So long as you do inbound and outbound, you will have to sign in with NANTA. And should you test the club of NATOP, eighty in keeping with cent in their individuals are our participants. They just sign up for NATOP so as to take part in household tourism. The instant you have interaction in issuance of airline price ticket, you then will have to check in with NANTA and also you will have to own the ID card.
How are you making sure that your consumers are acutely aware of this initiative to be sure that it serves it objective?
We have now a masterplan that we’ve got began rolling out. We’ve already engaged the media on this course to fill them in on what the plans are. After that, we’re going into complete scale exposure a good way to be on nationwide radio, televisions and social media systems for us to create consciousness. The NCAA, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Nigerian Police, the Financial and Monetary Crimes Fee (EFCC) are all carried alongside and the basic public too, in order that they may be able to all recognize what to seem out for.
After the release of this ID card, no proceeding passenger will have to purchase price ticket with out first challenging for the ID card of the travel agent to make sure that she or he is authentic. The ID card has a barcode that may be hooked up to the holder’s Financial institution Verification Quantity (BVN). That approach, passengers can inform that the agent is authentic or now not. If you test the barcode on your cellular software, you’ll in an instant obtain a message that may be in keeping with the card that you’re maintaining. So, this is a bit tricky to replicate.
After the release, we’re going to continue on mega coaching of our individuals as a result of it is rather essential that our participants are educated, to convey professionalism on board and paintings the method different travel businesses round the global are doing.