By Chinedu Eze
The National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies (NANTA) has called on the federal government to grant travel agencies access to interest-free loans introduced recently by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to cushion the impact of the CoVID-19 epidemic.
The association lamented that due to downturn of business occasioned by the virus ravaging the world, 24, 000 travel agents may lose jobs.
President of NANTA, Bankole Bernard, said this at a media briefing in Lagos, at the weekend. According to him, travel agents were expected to remit monies generated on sales of tickets over a period of time to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), but unfortunately they have not been able to sell tickets and the few tickets sold have not been paid for. Therefore, it would be difficult to remit the monies to IATA at these trying times, he said.
The association also pleaded with IATA to relax payment circle on the remittances and urged banks to help secure guarantees for the members for a period of time.
The NANTA President said the travel agents may loss over 50 per cent on sales of ticket this year, put at over N180 billion. He noted that last year, the agents generated over $1 billion (about N380 billion).
He regretted that the travel agents would lose the high bookings that usually occur during Easter and the summer to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bernard, however, commended the federal government for its response so far to the pandemic and particularly with the restrictions of passengers and airlines from high impact countries, adding that the association has directed its members to be alert and proactive at this sad period, as they continue to monitor the spread and management of the virus.
He noted that haven taken into consideration the effective consequence of the development; the EXCO and members of the association had directed that its Kano AGM next week should be postponed to a later date.
“It was a hard decision to take having assured you all, two weeks ago, that we are good to go. We are bent to be on the side of caution and not panic. We should know what covid-19 is all about since we are at the Centre, the engine room of the travel business, which is presently grounded globally.
“We are concerned about our people, their health and future wellbeing during and after when this plague is over. Our association is in pain concerning the deserved shifting of our prime gathering, usually done to hand over reign of administration.
“Next week, in Lagos, the board of Trustees and the EXCO, not excluding some of you, will be here to witness the hand over to a new EXCO which should have been done in Kano but for covid-19 watch regulations,” Bernard said.