Airlines, NTDC mull special travel packages to drive tourism
Leisure travellers and tourists in the country may be in for special packages in a strategic partnership currently being worked out between airlines and the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC).
The package, which includes a destination of choice, tour, two nights hotel stay and return ticket, will cost about N50, 000 per person.
The partnership, all things being equal, is aimed at driving the tourism industry, with increased patronage for airlines, hotels and other related service providers.
Chairman of the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), Capt. Nogie Meggison, said the initiative was their effort to jumpstart domestic tourism in the country thereby also encouraging more Nigerians to fly to various tourism destinations around the country rather than travel abroad for their holidays.
It will be recalled that the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) recently estimated that air travel and tourism in Nigeria contributed 1.7 per cent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), being $7.5 billion in 2016. Stakeholders said the figures were poor given the high population in Nigeria.
Meggison, at a meeting with the Director General of the NTDC, Folorunso Coker, noted that aviation and tourism are two sides of the same coin which go hand-in-hand and can help to develop both sectors in a mutually beneficial manner.
According to him, “It is a well known fact that airlines help to build tourism. For instance, a clear example was during the closure of Abuja airport; many of the leading hotels in Abuja lost a lot of patronage from about 80 per cent occupancy to well below 20 per cent.
“This also had a ripple effect on car hire and taxi operators, restaurants, a drop in taxes and had an effect on the GDP and several other businesses in the service industry. This underscores how important aviation is to tourism and hospitality,” Meggison said.
The chairman assured that such a partnership will be a gain for Nigeria; with win-win situation for the airlines, tourism and hospitality sector, whereby the airlines will be able to attract more passengers.
“We can start from Abuja especially during weekends when the traffic outbound from Lagos into Abuja is usually low and hotel occupancy equally poor.
“On our part as airlines, one major way that government can assist domestic operators is by removing all 37 multiple taxes that are heavy burdens on domestic operators thereby allowing airlines to offer just our cost air fares.
“Hotels should also drop their prices to the cost for a bed & breakfast, and we together can target to offer two nights with return flight ticket Lagos – Abuja for N50, 000 all inclusive as our own contribution in getting the economy back on track. The package could be sold through the NTDC platform only.
“Other tourist sites, locations, restaurants, eateries, bar, social clubs, night clubs should be encouraged to offer same at cost price as a contribution for now to jump start our economy,” he said.
Apparently in agreement, NTDC DG, Coker, noted that Nigeria is blessed with so many tourist sites, festivals, events and places of interests which people would love to go.
He added that this could be achieved, if the tourism and hospitality industries, in partnership with the entertainment sector, work in sync with the airlines.
Coker said: “Families can take advantage of various festivals, carnivals and events around the country the year round to go on holiday and relax and have fun. For instance, hotels can partner with airlines and the tourism authority to arrange package tours for couples, family or groups to visit the Calabar Carnival or Obudu Cattle Ranch, or spend a weekend for two in Abuja, or go and enjoy the scenery at the Eyo Festival in Lagos. Corporate Organisations can also hold their Retreats or annual Conventions at many of these destinations,” he said.