Top Line

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Travel Practitioners’ Identity Card Stirs Controversy As Wale Ojo - Lanre takes NANTA to court By Omolola Itayemi Thisday

Travel Practitioners’ Identity Card Stirs Controversy
As Wale Ojo - Lanre takes NANTA to court
By Omolola Itayemi
July 7, 2018 1:30 am 13 0
Cards are usually associated with games and gambling. Game cards have different values – Ace of clubs, Joker in a pack, Queen of hearts, the Four Aces and the rest. You win or lose depending on how you play. And so it seems that some practitioners in the travel and tourism industry have played a card – a travel practitioners’ card. But some fellow travellers are not playing. They are contesting the draw. Did the National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies play a good card? Omolola Itayemi writes
Last Tuesday, Nigerian travel agents celebrated what was considered a milestone with the introduction of its identity card called Nigerian Travel Practitioners’ Identity Card (NTPIC) under the leadership of Bankole Bernard, the current president of National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies (NANTA).
Canapés, cocktails, good music and the right ambience characterised the launch. All present were ecstatic about it and all seemed very well.

But the celebration was hardly over when the group was slammed with a suit. NANTA was given seven days to withdraw the purported ID card.
In a letter served on Bankole, NANTA President by Yinka Olujimi and Company, Legal Practitioners, with the headline ‘Illegal Introduction of a Purported Nigerian Travel Practitioners Identification Card’, Mr. Wale Ojo- Lanre, a tourism stakeholder, averred that the inauguration of such a scheme was not only Ultra Vires, but outside the purview of the objectives of the association.
Ojo-Lanre pointed out that Bankole claimed during the inauguration of the scheme that his action was in collaboration with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), a corporate entity, which has no statutory mandate to venture into the production and issuance of such a document.
Bernard, on the other hand, believes the travel identity card is not misleading to other industry practitioners.
In an interview with this correspondent, he explained the decision of NANTA to name the card as such: “NANTA is set up by an act and affiliated with NCAA. Travel is part of the chain of tourism but tourism is not part of the chain of travel. Do any of the people understand how we travel agents operate our business? Travel is the only industry that is under two ministries – Aviation and Tourism. How many of them have any relationships with IATA? Which other associations write tickets, tell me? I maintain, it is not illegal to use Travel Practitioners because we use ‘Travel’ in the formation of the agency name NANTA and we need identity cards that are international in nature. It’s to help identify genuine members and also to practical cub the menace of individuals that parade themselves as travel agents who end up defrauding innocent Nigerians.
Let me explain further, this card is only for travel agents and consultants.”
Pelu Awofeso, an award-winning travel and tourism writer and publisher of Waka-about is of the opinion that the card was done in good faith: “I was privileged to attend some NANTA meetings where the ID card was discussed and its importance emphasised over and over. I was impressed that the body was taking a bold step to check 419 travel agents who open shop, fleece unsuspecting customers and close shop shortly after.
The leadership cited many instances of corrupt practitioners running into millions of Naira. But when what was solely meant to be a strictly NANTA ID for genuine practitioners morphed into a wholesale ID for the travel industry in Nigeria beats me. But again, we must recognise the fact that the project initiators had noble intentions. They just need to re-calibrate and all should be well.”