By Chinelo Obogo
National The Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA) said the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) refusal to release $ 450million owned by foreign airlines flying in the country has paralyzed the travel agency industry.
Speaking to the Daily Sun, the president of the Association Mrs. Susan Akporiaye, said that the situation is now so difficult that for some time, travel agents have not been able to sell tickets because foreign airlines have removed the minimum fares from their price inventories and replaced them with higher to bypass CBN and buy forex in parallel market.
He said that so far, many of their customers who want to travel for summer vacation and students, who are studying abroad who want to travel to continue their education have been stranded. now in Nigeria because they cannot afford the exorbitant cost of flight tickets.
He said the current situation presents a real threat to the industry and to the continuity of their business as travel professionals, keeping in mind the potential unemployment and the associated national economic losses as the world gradually- increasingly appearing during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
“Summer travel for us in Nigeria has been threatened and has been so for the past two months. It’s scary for us, people want to travel but we can’t sell because the cost of tickets is ridiculous.
For example, Virgin Atlantic removed all inventory and is now the only top class in the system selling N1.8 million. British Airways still has a lower fare of around N800,000 but you see, the fares are ridiculous.
“We don’t enjoy it anymore so we called on CBN to release the funds so that we can sell tickets normally. This is frustrating. Over the past week, I have been receiving calls from my customers who want to travel and by the time I send the cost of the flight, they will say it is too high. This applies to those who want to travel to different countries. This is very sad. Because I want to sell, I also feel sorry for my passengers. Normally, a family of four would spend N1.7 million on flights but now, we are talking about N3 million. “We find it difficult to sell not because the requests don’t come in, but every time we get requests and send the cost, the passengers change their minds because the fare is too high. So, for now, we only do corporate travels. We send SOS to the Presidency to help us.