Tuesday 26th June 2018 marked the beginning of a new era in the history of travel business and ethics in Nigeria as the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies launched the Nigeria Travel Practitioners Identification Card (NTPIC).
Speaking at the event, the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika and the Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, Captain Muhtar Usman who were represented by the Director of Air Transport Regulations of NCAA, Edem Oyo-Ita stated that the introduction of the industry ID card is a step in the right direction. The NCAA advised the airlines to restrict their patronage to only members on the NTPIC database.
Captain Muktar Usman said that the launch of the NTPIC comes at a time of high fraudulent activity in Nigeria. He explained the NCAA has received a series of complaints with regards to agencies or agents defrauding unexpecting customers of their hard-earned money through various means, including cybercrime.
The Director-General emphasised the role of Travel Agencies as the first ambassadors of a nation. They are the first to be contacted by foreigners and citizens who intend to travel in and out of the country. They are the image of the country. “The NTPIC is, therefore, a step in the right direction to bring sanity to the downstream sector of the aviation industry,” he said.
Captain Usman further highlighted that in view of the increased criminal activity, a task force had been inaugurated by the Director, Air Transport Regulation, DATR on the 27 of November 2017. The task force, which comprises representatives of airlines, travel agencies, GDS and the Civil Aviation Authority, has vowed to determine modalities for best practices in the travel agency sub-sector.
At the launch of the NTPIC in Lagos, NANTA National President Bankole Bernard said: “The travel business in Nigeria has become one for all and sundry with absolute disregard for professionalism. The global nature of the business has been adulterated by fraudulent people who have little or no regard for the business and has thus become worrisome with the level of default to the airlines as well as passengers losing their hard-earned money to duplicitous travel agents.”
“This appalling act of unguided practitioners has continued for several years and has undermined the professionalism of serious-minded consultants within the industry and threatened the existence of a business whose primary focus is to distribute inventories on behalf of the principals which are the airlines.”
In knowing the anomalies in the industry, the Executive Council of NANTA, the umbrella body responsible for all travel agencies in Nigeria, decided to think of a lasting solution to the industry that contributes billions of Naira to Nigeria’s economy.
Said Bankole Bernard: “We are of the strong belief that NTPIC will help in identifying all the practitioners in the travel industry and put a check on them by ensuring that there is a proper database of all the agents in the industry as well as keeping statistical data to help the government plan for the industry.”
“I am very optimistic that the NTPIC is a stepping stone for the eradication of fraudsters and fraudulent acts within the downstream sector of the Aviation industry,” said Adeshola Kayode, Director Capstone Travels, and Vice President NANTA-Abuja Zone. He added the NTPIC will also help in facilitating the NANTA Bill movement before the National Assembly and will encourage and motivate members.
The unveiling of the NTPIC was done in the present of the Nigeria Immigration, Nigeria police, FAAN, NCAA and other major stakeholders of the industry.
The National Executive Council comprising the Board of trustees, National Executives and All Zonal Vice-President were present as well as airlines like South African Airways, British Airways, RwandAir, Emirates, Lufthansa, Kenya Airways, EgyptAir, and the GDS (Amadeus, Sabre and Travelport). The IATA Nigeria Team led by Mr. Fatokun was also present.
The ID card project is powered and produced by VAPO AFRICA led by Mrs. Funmi Ogidan who gave a short presentation on the security features on the card. The deadline for compliance will be announced soon