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NANTA raises the bar in travel with excellent performance

The projected 3.4 trillion dollars Gross Domestic Product (GDP) rated Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA) Initiative is to gain a muscled buy- in by the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA), which will be facilitated through aviation collaborations with four major African indigenous airlines, Kenya Airways, Egypt air, Ethiopian Airlines and Rwanda Air.

With expected liberalised free trade and duty free enabled goods and services regime across African borders despite challenges of COVID-19 pandemic and teething problems, NANTA believes that an organised trade and tourism marketing among African nations facilitated by well thought out aviation connectivity, African union passport and synchronised visa regime, among nations under the AFCFTA deal, could change the economic narratives of the estimated 1.3 million population of African nations.

Concerned that the trade pact has potentials of lifting out the vulnerable poor, particularly African women who bestrides about 70 per cent the informal sectors in Africa out of poverty, NANTA President, Mrs Susan Akporiaye says AFCFTA presents a refreshing assessment of the tourism and aviation collaborations with African airlines at the forefront to exploit and boost intra African trade, create travel and tourism jobs and improve competitiveness of the unique African culture, indigenous crafts and tourism to the global community.

Mrs Akporiaye, who unveiled Africa to Africa Tourism Promotion campaign to the management of the four major African airlines at different meetings in Lagos, stated that with the advent the African union passport by Africa Union (AU), and NANTA driving the tourism and culture content initiative in collaboration with the airlines, will enhance and lubricate the promotion and marketing of African tourism economy, creating jobs in the process and engendering peace and integration.

Speaking during the visit to Kenya Airways management, NANTA president called for a detailed and focal attention on Kenya tourism within the AFCFTA agenda and with members pushing the frontiers of its marketing and promotion.

She believes Kenya Airways can be a veritable partner in the NANTA driven vision to create jobs across and within Africa region through intra continental tourism initiatives.

Hafis Balogun, Country Manager, Kenya Airways who received NANTA President and her delegation, praised the Africa-to-Africa Tourism Promotion campaign, noting that Kenya Airways will partner with the association to give a different holiday experience to Nigerians and Africans interested to visit Kenya.

Mr Balogun who conducted NANTA team round the office of Kenya Holidays, noted that the office, in response to the dreams and demand for holiday visits to Kenya, will in due course, roll out specific tourism products and to which NANTA will be the driving force.

“We have taken note of the desire to rebrand and drive the Kenya Holidays with safari, beach shopping tourism products enabled agenda, and with your deserving collaboration, Kenya tourism would rebound fast.”

At the Victoria Island Office of Ethiopian Airlines, Akporiaye reiterated the need for intra African tourism rebirth and challenged the management to facilitate the promotion of Ethiopian religious tourism and its agricultural offerings.

Elated at the NANTA Africa Tourism Promotion campaign, the General Manager, Nigeria of the biggest airline in Africa, Mr Shimeles Arage, noted that the Ethiopian national carrier has been in the forefront of African connectivity and integration, adding that the airline hauled across the world and Africa, the COVID-19 pandemic medical response equipment and other cargos, which helped African businesses in particular to remain afloat at the height of the pandemic.

“We shall collaborate with NANTA on this laudable campaign and would do the needful in truly letting Africans and Nigerians know more about Ethiopia tourism, which I must admit, we have not given the true focal attention.”

Arage informed that Nigerians would be amazed at the religious tourism offerings of northern Ethiopia, which harbours the Ark of Covenant and other relics and highpoints of early Christianity, not excluding the distinct aromatic Ethiopian Coffee brand.

“We are with you on this amazing Africa to Africa tourism initiative,” he assured.

Addressing Rwanda Air management, Mrs Akporiaye stressed that the airline has shown capacity and discipline since bestriding the African aviation space, hence the need to be part of the NANTA driven African tourism promotion agenda, particularly in showcasing its famed tourism infrastructural renewals and agricultural offerings.

Country manager, Rwanda Air, Muhamud Wayiga praised NANTA for being in the forefront of the AFCFTA tourism buy-in, requesting the association to furnish him with Nigerian tourism products and destinations to enable the airline market Nigeria not only in Rwanda but in others countries where the airline has established presence.

“Am glad to receive you and your team today in Rwanda Air and in due course, I will visit your office which I understand is representative of your progressive impact. But we at Rwanda Air will like to know more about Nigeria; we want other people, our passengers to come to Nigeria and enjoy its hospitality, not just about promoting Rwanda alone. That’s why am happy about this NANTA initiative.”

Received in audience at the Egypt air by the management team led by General Manager, Mr Muharram Abdel Rahman, Financial Controller, Ayman Mohamed Hassan and Ahmed Rasaq, chief accountant, Mrs Akporiaye said Egypt air has the history and capacity to be at the forefront of NANTA driven Africa-to-Africa tourism and aviation collaboration.

“We at NANTA is convinced that if Egypt air partners with us and put its strength in the pact, the people of the continent would be better for it.”

Responding, Mr Muharram Abdel Rahman noted that Egypt, as the oldest country in Africa nay the world, is determined to put its strength and experience behind the NANTA Africa Tourism Promotion campaign.

“First, let me congratulate you and your team for the good work you have done so far despite the impact of COVID-19 pandemic. We at Egypt air salute your courage and for coming up with this initiative, we cannot but commend you for your foresight and open doors to deepen the African tourism economy” he enthused.

Rahman explained that Egypt air could collaborate in areas of training, medical tourism, logistics and security and safety.

“We must admit that our visa regime is a bit confusing to Nigerians, but we now have visa on arrival. However, the group tour regime is also difficult to sell in Nigeria unlike what is obtainable in Europe and America, where tourists come to Egypt in groups and have seamless visits. Nigerians don’t like to travel in groups and so, we wish to encourage group visits and we can support with visa procurement, thereby helping to facilitate visit Egypt holidays.”

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