Absence of national carrier undermines growth of tourism — Expert

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AS the nation’s indigenous airlines suffer from infancy syndrome, the negative impact resonates to the tourism sector as there is just a thin line bordering the two. And as long as the airlines continue to struggle for growth, the gains in tourism will remain at a low ebb. This is a cause for worry to some experts in the industry even as the government initiates earnest steps to revive a national carrier.
The Managing Director of Scribe Global Services, Mr. Oluwagbemi Akinboro harped on the many challenges dwindling the industry’s fortunes and called on government to hasten the process of establishing a national carrier. According to him, this is necessary as it will close the existing gaps between Nigeria and other smaller African countries like Tanzania, Ethiopia, Kenya and South Africa already making huge monetary gains from tourism.
He said Nigeria’s travel industry is still basking in the old traditional way of just wanting to travel and book hotels, but travel business worldwide has gone beyond that to a total package service that involves everything, ranging from tours, hotels, pleasure and having a company dedicating aircraft for just holidays, car rental, escort services, family settlement and expatriates programme, where experts are brought all over the world on behalf of a company to access their business and help them grow.
“Globally now, the travel industry is huge and fast growing in Asia, Europe, America and Australia. But in Nigeria, we are still struggling to move to the next stage. There has not been significant growth in the sector right now because the government is not doing enough to help the travel industry.
“One major challenge is the absence of a national carrier for Nigeria, which has enabled foreign carriers to continually dominate our airspace and cart away billions of naira from our economy annually without reciprocity from us. Nigerians are regularly exploited by these carriers, but on a second thought, you can’t blame them because they are in the business to make money,” said Akinboro.
He said a virile national carrier will address the issue of exploitation in air travel fares as government-owned airlines will definitely subsidize fares of passengers through tax evasion or elimination. According to him, the tickets are not expensive but the taxes, when added to the fares, make the fares almost unaffordable to average travelers.
Akinboro emphasized that the nation’s tourists attractions are not well explored as those in charge are not maximizing the opportunities available to them in the interest of the country. He urged the current administration to address this laissez-faire attitude of the tourists’ site operators and expand the potentials in tourism by having a carrier that will promote the sites in its brand package sales.
“We still need to expand our tourism potential in this country. There are several tourism areas Nigeria can showcase to the world, but these are flagrantly abandoned. The ones that are available are not been properly packaged while those in charge are not seeing new ideas in the industry. It is, undeniably, a huge market and Nigeria is large.
“We have great tourism sector in Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania and Ethiopia. Those countries have well packaged tourism that attracts people to their countries and earn billions from tourism alone annually. You can’t see that happening in Nigeria,” Akinboro lamented.

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