To underscore the global importance of aviation as the locomotive engine of any economy, National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (Nanta) President, Bankole Bernard has called on the federal government to relocate the Ministry of Tourism to Aviation to fast track an immediate development of tourism in Nigeria.
Bankole who in recent weeks has consistently decreed the poor situation of Nigeria’s airports and the entire aviation sector, assured the government of Nanta’s support to help change the ugly scenario painted about travel facilities in country only if only a systematic and strategic re-alignment is put in place to drive tourism through aviation.
He told Aviation Minister, Senator Hadi Sirika to let president Buhari know that Nigeria can quickly get out of economic recession if tourism is married to aviation, a progressive partnership and policy decision that has helped other nations in the world to rebound on all indices of development.
“Nanta is embarrassed by the look of our airports and the situation our aviation sector today because Nigeria never has truly paid attention to the huge benefits in bound tourism hence we urge you to please do all you can to bring the tourism portfolio to the aviation sector so that Nigeria can power domestic tourism and grow the huge potentialities of Nigeria as a global tourism destination” he stressed.
Bankole who got the aviation minister nodding in agreement, upped his presentation with graphic details of how other Africa nations of Ethiopia, Egypt and Kenya help power their tourism economy through key attention and support to their national airlines, also thumbed up Asian tourism economic powers of United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan and China for pushing aviation cum tourism infrastructure to the front burner of their economic aspiration.
“Mr. Minister sir, we are tired of the lip service paid to tourism and aviation development in Nigeria and as key players in Nigeria aviation downstream sector, we have seen what aviation powered tourism agenda has done for other countries and Nigeria cannot allow other Africa countries to overshadow us and use our failings to gain ground ahead of us in this business, Bankole further explained.
Nanta President who led top members of his association to the exclusive meeting, tasked the aviation minister to look into the issues of repatriation of trapped funds of foreign airlines, the state of Abuja and Muritala Mohammed airports, Aviation Bank to help domestic airlines and the Nanta Act to address issues of professionalism in the travel trade business.
In a detailed point by point response, Senator Sirika assured Nanta leadership that aviation is dear to the heart of President Buhari, nothing that the committee for Nigeria Airways was the first national assignment pushed forward by his administration ever before the emergence of Ministry of Aviation.
“I totally support your call for aviation to drive tourism and it is not because I want to add the portfolio of tourism to what we were appointed to do here but the truth must be said that air transportation opens up a nation to many positive developmental indices to which tourism is a major issue”, the ministers noted, adding that “we want Nanta to help us, challenge us and present solution to how we can achieve our national dreams in the shortest possible time, so when we fail to do the right things, we can accept that we failed”.
On the issue of trapped funds of foreign airlines, the minister pleaded that the airlines must understand and support Nigeria in this trying time but admitted that their exist maybe due to commercial consideration than any lawful and legal show off with Nigeria, praying that they give Nigeria a chance to get out of recession since they had it good in the past.
“You know your friends when you are in difficulty so the foreign airlines should now bear with Nigeria at this trying moment which will not last forever”, the Minister explained and further assured that concession of the airports is the only solution to their growth and profitability.
Abuja Carnival to Rebound?
Moribund and corruption bedevilled Abuja carnival may rebound again this year, Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture has assured. The carnival which in 2006 and 2008, fast tracked Nigeria to positive ranking in the global carnival sub-sector of industry dipped in packaging and marketing afterwards as the ministry of tourism officials turned the preparation process into an ATM machine with the consequent drop in its image and participation.
FIRS’ NEW TAX REGIME for TRAVEL TRADE BUSINESS
The apex tax regulation and enforcement agency, the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has promised to critically and clinically review all tax related matters as it concerns the Nigerian travel trade business in order to arrest multi-duplication of taxable inventories in their care.
Travel Agents in Nigeria are empowered to sell both local and airline tickets and also provide travel and tour advisory services to their clients through globally established windows which captures Taxes, levies and sometimes values Added Tax which are remitted to airline operators who pays to FIRS and government agencies such as Federal Airports Authority (FAAN) and Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
The snag which FIRS now promised to uncover and free travel Agents from the ropes of duplicity of taxes, would be to properly capture the various taxes and levies embedded into airlines ticket cover which hitherto confounds tax officials when assessing the tax returns of travel agents who sometimes do not get tax payment certificate from their principals who supposedly had paid on their behalf.
Babatunde Fowler, the FIRS boss who received Nanta delegation led by their President, Bankole Bernard, on visit to his Abuja office admitted that travel trade operators need to enjoy a development tax regime in view of the complexities of tax and VAT collection expectations in their areas of operation and assured that senior tax operatives from FIRS would work with Nanta to put in place a flexible auditable and transparent tax assessment regime exclusive to travel agents.
End in sight for Banks on Travel Tickets?
Does banking trade convention and the CBN act empower banks in Nigeria to trade on airline inventories? This and may more travel trade puzzles would be looked into by Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) anytime from now.
The move to investigate the development if implemented may lead to sanctions against any financial institution that engaged in sale of airline tickets exclusively reserved for registered travel agents in Nigeria.
At a meeting with National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (Nanta) in Lagos recently, the travel professionals disclosed that they are worried about the development and also the habit of foreign airlines selling tickets in their city offices.
Bankole Bernard, Nanta President told the DG of NCAA to tighten its regulatory hold on the sector and find solutions to various disturbing trends in the aviation sector which threatens jobs and welfare of aviation workers, particularly, travel agents.
“Over 300,000 jobs are on the line in our sector as travel agents are folding up one by one because everyone now sells tickets and gets scot-free adding that when trouble rears up its head on the matter, most people who are ignorant of the insider problems, would end up blaming real travel trade operators.
Captain Muhter Usman, the DG of NCAA who received the Nanta team promised to investigate the development and promised to act positively on various issues affecting the sector.
LCCI EMBRACES NANTA UNDER ITS WINGS
To reposition travel and tourism advocacy in Nigeria, the Octopus Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has pledged to accommodate National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (Nanta) as member of its travel segment in the chamber.
Dr. (Mrs.) Nike Akande, LCCI President disclosed that Nanta as a key member group in the chamber will not only bring vibrancy to the travel and tourism sector but as professionals will help direct the position of the chamber in its engagement with government on issues affecting the growth of the sector in Nigeria.
In a welcome address to Nanta members led by its President, Bankole Bernard on a courtesy visit ot the Victoria Island office of LCCI, Dr. Akanda called on Nanta to find a way of engaging the airlines to address the issue high airfare in Nigeria, promising to add the voice of LCCI to the issues affecting travel agencies in Nigeria and that of aviation.
“We have followed your leadership of Nanta with keen interest and are happy today to welcome you here and promise to have you as member for the chamber’s travel segment adding “Anytime you need us, we shall add our voice and join you to address issues affecting the sector by engaging government at all levels”
She traced the history of LCCI to 1888 when it was founded in Lagos and was incorporated in 1950 as a non profit making organization under the Companies act of 1948, adding that the primary objective of the chamber is to advocate or oppose legislative measures affecting trade, industry, commerce and agriculture. LCCI has with over 1,500 corporate members.
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