Travel agents bemoan fakery, illegal operators
• Lagos NANTA sets up committees
Travel agencies have again raised concerns over the activities of illegal operators, touts and fake agencies that have continued to dupe unsuspecting travellers and give other operators a bad name.
The operators, under the aegis of National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA), Lagos Zone, said the local aviation industry, which is already stressed by the COVID-19 impacts, would have more difficult recovery process without a concerted effort to nip the excesses of intruders in the bud.
As an in-house response to the problem, NANTA Lagos Zone has set up a committee on Travel Policy and Standards to review existing measures and proffer ways forward to check fakery.
Recall that the problem of fake travel agents and touting at the Lagos airport are not new. The guiding Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) Act, forbids agents and agencies that are not recognised by NANTA from practising in the industry.
In this regard, NANTA in 2018 rolled out the Nigeria Travel Practitioners Identification Card (NTPIC), as a common means of identification for all genuine travel agents. However, enforcement of the rules against unregistered operators has been a problem.
Vice President of NANTA, Lagos Zone, Yinka Folami, yesterday said irrespective of the bad reputation, they were more determined to let the world and the Nigerian travel market understand that they were competent professionals, capable of self-organising and engaging stakeholders.
Folami, at a zoom meeting of members and inauguration of three committees, said responsibilities of the Travel Policy and Standards Committee was to kick out touts, portmanteau and briefcase travel agents, who “keep wreaking havoc on innocent travellers”.
“The primary essence is to eradicate touting from our chain and we want to eradicate unevenness from our practices. We want to take care of imbalance in the chain. During the past seven months, the Executive Council of the Lagos Zone received several complaints from travellers that had fallen to scammers, imposters and touts that parade as travel agents. That is an unfortunate narrative that we keep hearing. But it has to stop, especially in the interest of genuine practitioners and our image as a country,” he said.
Folami said while the committee and NANTA as a whole keep working with the authorities, the travelling public should be wary and take extra measures not to fall victim to scammers. He advised travellers to patronise only licensed NANTA travel agents. He acknowledged the activities of NANTA, led by the National President, Susan Akporiaye, to train, renew, adapt, and embrace the challenges of COVID-19 and its severe impact on the travel trade.
The travel policy and standards committee is responsible for monitoring and advising approaches, travel policies, and practices to achieve balance in the travel trade in the Lagos market.
The other two committees are: Code of Conduct and Disciplinary Committee, and the Advocacy and Outreach Committee. The former is saddled with interpreting the Code of Conduct as stipulated in the NANTA Constitution and administer standards, while the latter is responsible for establishing and maintaining relationships/partnerships with both active and passive members of NANTA and with stakeholders.