Travel agencies react to comments by US Embassy official

The National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA) has called on the Federal Government to caution foreign embassy officials about unsavory comments about Nigerian businesses and its professionals.

The call is coming on the heels of a video clip gone viral of a recorded television broadcast which captured an American Consular Officer describing Nigerian travel trade professionals as touts who must not be consulted on visa protocols.

The Association’s leadership described the comment by the American Embassy staff as very sad; encouraging the demarketing and stigmatization of registered members of the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA).

President of NANTA, Mrs Susan Akporiaye says, NANTA will take up the issues with its regulatory agency, the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).

She also calls for caution especially with the kind of comments made by the American Embassy staff as such comments can bear negatively on the fabric of private sector economic impact and effort.

Mrs Akporiaye disclosed that NANTA members as travel agents, consultants, and facilitators, do not trade visas but can guide and advice intending visa applicants on how to complete their forms and guide them through some technical requirements needed to apply for visas.

According to her, NANTA is disturbed by the insensitivity of the said American Embassy official who neither reached out to NANTA or regulatory body of the travel trade in Nigeria to officially complain or report the supposed infraction before going public.

“We are not in anyway protecting any operator who runs foul of the law but we say, even at that, there are channels to fish out and fix such deviants and for the Embassy consulate officer to wave off Nigerian travel trade professionals without going through established channels is totally unacceptable”.

She urged, the Federal Government to intervene and request the Embassy to withdraw its blanket negative comment against the Nigerian aviation down stream operators, noting that no foreign embassy in America will go public in the United States’ to describe American businesses as frauds and asking the public not to patronize them.

“This does not however confer on us the right to assure Clients of getting approvals for their visas or an express intent of being custodians of visas. We are like other professionals who are competent to help visa seekers on the right thing to do and if there are “Agents” who the American Embassy has intelligence on, to be bad influence, the Embassy should report them to NANTA or to the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), which regulates Travel Agents in Nigeria”.

Reporting by Nosa Aituamen; editing by Muzha Kucha

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