Travel agencies

$450m trapped by IATA: Nigerian travel agencies urge CBN and FG to repatriate fund

Nigeria’s forex crisis has created a huge challenge for its travel industry, with stakeholders fearing it could undermine the growth of the aviation sector in the long term.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) had last month, called on the Nigerian government to release $450 million belonging to international carriers operating in the country, which has long been withheld.

The Central Bank of Nigeria is supposed to hold the money due to the strict foreign exchange policies it has in place to prevent the naira from falling freely.

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However, the situation is creating an anti-bilateral posture that Nigerian travel industry stakeholders are calling on the federal government to address before it jeopardizes future investment opportunities for the country.

The National Association of Travel Agencies of Nigeria, NANTA, has urged the Federal Government and the CBN to step in to release the trapped fund, which stood at over $450 million as of May 2022.

In a statement released to the media, NANTA President, Ms. Susan Akporiaye said that NANTA, as a strategic partner in the downstream aviation sector, has over the years appealed to the Federal Government through l intermediary of the CBN and the Ministry of Aviation to consider the possibility of reducing the huge funds trapped.

She said foreign airlines could resort to measures that would increase air fares for Nigerian travellers.

“The current situation presents a real threat to the industry and the continuity of our business as travel professionals given the potential job losses and consequent national economic losses as the country gradually emerges from the era of the pandemic.

“Foreign airlines can resort to destocking in the system, which leads to high cost of tickets in the Nigerian market. Due to the situation with foreign airlines, a six-hour trip to London can result in a fare of around $2,000 or more.

“Foreign airlines may also encourage tickets sold outside the country to flood into Nigeria, thus affecting the survival of Nigerian travel agents and the consequent loss of taxes and levies on such transactions,” she said. declared.

The situation was exposed during the 78 which has just endede IATA’s annual general meeting in Doha, Qatar, by the organization’s vice president for Africa and the Middle East, Kamal Al Awadhi, who described the talks to repatriate the funds as a “turbulent race “.

Ms Akporiaye said the trapped fund is capable of reversing the excellent portrayal that Nigerians have made in the global travel industry as it paints the wrong narrative.

“We are once again by this release, calling on the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Ministry of Aviation and the Office of the Vice President to intervene quickly to reduce the amount of funds trapped to help solve the operations of these companies aerial.

Current development does not show Nigeria as a good business destination for an investor.

“With this situation, a bleak future more than the effects of the pandemic awaits Nigerian tour operators if nothing concrete and effective is done urgently to address this worrying situation by the CBN.”