Recently, the police in Lagos declared a fake female travel agent wanted for selling fake online tickets worth N56 million to unsuspecting Nigerians. The fake travel agent was said to be involved in fraudulent activities after absconding with several passengers’ fares without issuing tickets.
The latest victim was a lady living in the U.K. who had planned to come home for a short holiday and unknowingly bought a fake ticket online.
Though the police are already investigating the case, the latest incident has caught the attention of the National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies (NANTA), the umbrella body to which all genuine travel agents/agencies operating in the country should automatically belong.
However with the latest incident, the NANTA as a body under the leadership of its present president, Mr. Bankole Bernard, the fake female travel agents and her accomplice may soon meet their Waterloo as the association has presented a travel practitioners identification project meant to sanitize the profession to all stakeholders.
Bankole, at a press conference last week, bluntly declared that 90per cent of the estimated 6,000 travel agencies in the country are operating without registering with NANTA.
The situation had been on ground even before the coming of the present leadership of NANTA which must have obviously been responsible for the inability of NANTA up to this moment to control the activities of all the travel agents.
Sadly, the inability of the body to control the over 6,000 travel agencies/agents is therefore the bane of the genuine agencies.
It was therefore cheering to hear from the Bankole led NANTA last week that the time has come for the body to sanitise the system for the purpose of putting an end to the activities of fraudulent travel agents.
Presenting the Travel Practitioners Identification Project to the different representatives of travel agents and agencies, airlines, International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) present at the event, Bankole said the move will ensure that everybody whether owner or employee of travel agencies must have identity card with a Unique Identification Number (UIN) that will provide a database of travel agencies and their personnel in the country.
Bankole who lamented how the shameful attitude of the fake agents have almost led to loss of confidence of the traveling public in dealing with travel agents, declared:“We are tired of how the industry is and we want to move to the next level. That is why we are here. That is why we called this stakeholders meeting today. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) are here. We want your supports and contributions to this project and also move the industry forward.
Obviously, NANTA would not have gone far without the support of NCAA which will be responsible for enforcing the laws guaiding against who intending travelers should patronise while purchasing tickets.
The NCAA through its director of Air Transport Regulations, Group Captain Edem Oyo-Ita, corroborated the position of the NANTA leadership on the activities of fake travel agents promising to ensure the system is sanitised.
The involvement of the NCAA by NANTA has from ab initio made the project a success in view of an existing provision in the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations (NCARs) which stipulates that all travel agencies must register with NANTA.
There is no doubt that the Bankole led NANTA project if not totally eradicating will drastically reduce the chances of the fake and fraudulent activities of the bad eggs amongst travel agencies and their agents.
While NANTA deserves commendation on this project, it’s success however depends on the ability of the relevant stakeholders such as the NCAA to enforce the law while airlines should stop patronising travel agents that are not registered with NANTA.
Above all, there is an urgent need for NANTA to rigorously embark on enlightenment of the traveling public on the danger inherent in patronizing travel agents not registered with NANTA.