.. Calls for government bailout through interest free soft loans
The president of National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies, NANTA, Mr. Bankole Bernard has disclosed that the Nigerian travel agencies has so far lost about N180billion and still counting to the Coronavirus pandemic ravaging the world.
This is coming just as the Association has postponed its Annual General Meeting, AGM slated for Kano from the 25th to 27th of March, 2020 to a later date as a result of the pandemic.
Speaking during a press conference in Lagos today, Friday, March 20th on the impact of Covid-19 on travel business and NANTA AGM in Kano, Mr. Bernard said the postponement became necessary to protect Nigerians and the travel industry from the ravaging impact of Covid 19.
According to him, next week, in Lagos, the board of trustees and the exco will be here to witness the hand over to a new exco which should have been done in Kano but for covid-19 watch regulations.
He explained that the handover has become necessary so that the new exco will continue from where the outgoing exco will stop since all the officers are running unopposed.
NANTA president stated that the AGM will now be held on a later date when the impact of Covid 19 is over.
“We are concerned about our people, their health and future well-being during and after when this plague is over. Our association is in pain concerning the deserved shifting of our prime gathering, usually done to hand over reign of administration”, Bernard stated.
He said NANTA is not alarmed or in panic mood but sufficiently aware to follow directives of the federal government task force on Covid-19, daily updates from Centre for Disease Control and daily monitoring of activities at the nation’s airports.
In his words:” We are impressed with government response so far and particularly with the restrictions of passengers and airlines from high impact countries. We have directed our members to be alert and proactive at this sad period, even as we continue to pray and monitor the spread and development.
NANTA is not unmindful of the consequences of covid-19 economically to the well-being of our members and our principles but we are more concerned about the health of our industry players and consumers. We therefore crave for understanding and urge all NANTA members to obey all government rules and regulations concerning the management of this pandemic. We are not alarmed or in panic mood but sufficiently aware to follow directives of the federal government task force on covid-19, daily updates from Centre for Disease Control and daily monitoring of activities at our airports”.
NANTA president explained that Covid-19 has grounded the global travel business to which Nigeria is a veritable player, adding that the travel agencies have scaled down their businesses to a skeletal level.
Bernard noted that the global aviation industry has lost over $200 billion to the pandemic and still counting.
He said NANTA needs government bailout inform of interest free overdraft or interest free loans for the period of Covid 19 so as to cope with its socio- economic challenges.
Bernard noted that the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN should have consideration for NANTA in their intervention effort to cushion the effect of Covid 19 and for the International Air Transport Association, IATA to relax its payment circles so that travel agencies will not default on their payment obligations.
NANTA boss said IATA should defer on the payment period or remittance period to like a month to enable their members meet up with its payment obligations.
He stressed the need to secure their bank guarantees which will remove the stigma of default from their members.