The local content law in Nigeria needs to be applied fully in regulatory operations of travel agents so as to preserve the sector for the benefit of Nigerians.

This was one of the resolutions of the Aviation Roundtable and Safety Initiative (ART) at the end of its first quarter breakfast meeting with the theme ‘Nigerian Travel Agencies: Challenges and Regulations’, held in Lagos.

The communique urged the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), as the regulatory agency for air travel business in Nigeria, to go beyond licensing of travel agents and take steps to address the challenges that have in recent years caused a decline in air bookings and performance of travel agencies in the country.

Daily Trust reports that at the forum, it was observed that bookings by travel agencies suffered a four-year decline of 3.5 million in 2018 amidst fear that travel agencies, which constitute the downstream sector of aviation, might be going into extinction.

Having identified the challenges, the buck was put at the table of NCAA to provide the enabling environment for the growth of travel agents in Nigeria.

The NCAA was specifically tasked to look into the activities of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to ensure it aligns with local laws “to protect the travel agencies in Nigeria without interference in commercial activities.”

The communique added, “The NCAA as sole regulator of air travel business in Nigeria, has a duty to approach IATA with the country’s expectations in terms of standards that should be applied in the Nigerian environment, regarding travel agency business so as to protect its own.”

Considering that only 150 out of over 3000 travel agencies operating in Nigeria were registered with NCAA, the agencies were charged to make “deliberate efforts to register with the NCAA to attract favourable regulatory benefits and protection from external exploitation.”

“Stakeholders in air travel business (airlines, NCAA, FAAN and NANTA) need to frequently share data information to avoid conflicting figures in industry data which impede planning.

“There is need to sign the Fly-Nigeria-Act legislation to help protect the Nigeria travel market for both local airlines and travel agents”, the communique added.

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