*Says AFCFTA initiative will create jobs, engender peace, integration
The projected $3.4 trillion Gross Domestic Product ( GDP) rated African Continental Free Trade Agreement ( AFCFTA) Initiative, is to gain a muscled buy- in by 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 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 estimated 1.3 billion population of African nations.
Concerned that the trade pact has potentials of lifting out the vulnerable poor, particularly African women who bestrides about 70 percent of 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, unvieling “NANTA Africa to Africa Tourism Promotion campaign” to the management of 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 promotion and marketing of African tourism economy, create jobs in the process, engender peace and integration.
Speaking during the visit to Kenya Airways management, NANTA President called for detailed and focal attention on Kenya tourism within AFCFTA agenda and with NANTA 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 NANTA Africa for Promotion tourism 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 the 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 syafari, beach shopping tourism products. With your deserving collaboration, Kenya tourism would rebound fast.
At the victoria island Office of Ethiopian Airlines, Mrs Susan Akporiaye reiterated the need for intra-African tourism rebirth and urged the management to facilitate the promotion of Ethiopian religious tourism and its agricultural offerings.
Elated at NANTA Africa Tourism Promotion campaign, the General Manager of the biggest airline in Africa, Mr Shimeles Arage, noted that Ethiopian national carrier, has been in the forefront of African connectivity and integration, stating 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 truely letting Africans and Nigerians know more about Ethiopia tourism, which I must admit, we have not given true focal attention,
‘Mr Arage added”.
He informed that Nigerians would be amazed at the religious tourism offerings of northern Ethiopia, which harbours the the ark of the covenant, other relics and highpoints of early christianity, not excluding the destinct aromatic ethiopian Coffee brand.
“We are with you on this amazing Africa to Africa tourism initiative, Mr Arage assured NANTA President and her team, which comprised of the Lagos zonal vice President, Yinka Folami, national auditor, Yinka Olapade and executive secretary, slyvester Olobor.
Addressing Rwanda Air management, Mrs Susan Akporiaye stressed that Rwanda Air has shown capacity and discipline since bestriding the African aviation space, hence the need to be part of NANTA driven african tourism promotion agenda, particularly in showcasing its tourism infrastructural renewals and agricultural offerings.
Country manager, Rwanda Air, Muhamud Wayiga, praised NANTA for being in the forefront of 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 other 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 is why am happy about this NANTA initiative. Mr Wayiga stressed
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 Susan 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 are 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” NANTA President explained.
Responding, Mr Muharram Abdel Rahman noted that Egypt is the oldest country in Africa and it is determined to put its strength and experience behind 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 for coming up with this initiative. We cannot but commend you for your foresight and open doors to deepen African tourism economy” he enthused.
Mr Rahman explained that Egypt air can collaborate in areas of training, medical tourism, logistics, security and safety.
” We must admit that our visa regime is a bit confusing to Nigerians but we now have visa on arrival, but 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, Mr Rahman explained”.
To show instant commitment to NANTA Africa Tourism Promotion campaign, Mr Rahman noted that a meeting with Egyptian ambassador and Egypt holiday outfit will be facilitated by the management of the airline as top priority.
Highpoint of the collaborative outreach was the setting up of a Committee by NANTA and the collaborating airlines to further enrich the vision and address possible cobwebs.
The picture below shows, NANTA President, Mrs Susan Akporiaye and the country manager Rwanda Air, Mr mahamud Wayiga (middle) with teams from both institutions in a group picture after the meeting in Lagos: