The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority says not less than 400 travel agencies operating in the country are not registered by the regulatory agency and do not have the requisite local licences to operate.
The Director of Air Transport Regulation, NCAA, Group Capt. Edem Oyo-Ita (retd.), said on Thursday that there were only about 157 travel agencies in the regulator’s registry while over 600 were doing business in the country.
Oyo-Ita spoke at the Quarterly Business Breakfast Meeting organised by the Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative in Lagos.
According to him, only about 200 out of the over 600 travel agencies doing business in the country are registered with the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies, which is a requirement for accreditation by the NCAA.
He said intending travellers should stop patronising unregistered travel agencies.
He said, “We take the blame that we may be poor in our regulations in the downstream sector of aviation which has not been adequately taken care of in the past years but it is mandatory that all travel agencies must be registered with the NCAA and NANTA.
“The International Air Transport Association has about 600 travel agents; NANTA has 200 members while NCAA has only 157 registered members in our record. This gathering is a wakeup call for every travel agent operating in the industry to register with the NCAA and NANTA.”
According to him, the NCAA has directed that all duly registered travel agencies should begin to display their certificates of registration or licences in all their outlets to curtail the activities of quacks.
The President of NANTA, Mr Bernard Bankole, had earlier accused the regulator of not paying enough attention to the downstream sector of the industry.
He explained that there was an infiltration of unregistered travel agencies, which he said was adversely affecting businesses, some of which had been forced to close shop.
“The NCAA is paying so much attention to the airlines, believing that we are not much of a problem until they begin to notice fraudulent activities. This is a major problem that we must address,” he said.
He stated that travel business could be profitable if given the right attention, “but it hasn’t been due to inconsistency and poor regulatory system we have experienced in the past year.”
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He said the lack of attention by the NCAA created a vacuum for the IATA to step in, accrediting and regulating the activities of Nigerian travel agencies from Geneva, Switzerland or Madrid, Spain.
“The solution is for us to have proper regulation in the industry through local rules so that foreigners will not come in and take our businesses because people are going out of jobs,” he said.
The Chairman of Med-View Airline, Alhaji Muneer Bankole, urged the NCAA to closely monitor the operations of travel agencies in the industry.
He said apart from issuing licences to them, the regulatory agency should look into their operations.
The President, Aviation Roundtable Initiative, Mr Gbenga Olowo, said airlines, as the main partners to travel agencies, should also pay attention to the business and assist in determining rules to govern the sector