The projected $3.4 trillion-GDP-rated Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) initiative is set to gain a muscled buy-in by the 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 liberalized free trade, duty free-enabled goods and services regime across African borders despite challenges of Covid-19 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 synchronized visa regime among nations under the AfCFTA deal, could change the economic narratives of the estimated 1.3 billion population of African nations.
Concerned that the trade pact has potentials of lifting the vulnerable poor, particularly African women, out of poverty, NANTA President 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 and tourism to the global community.
Speaking during the visit to Kenya Airways management, Akporiaye called for a detailed and focal attention on Kenya tourism within the 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 the Africa region through intra-continental tourism initiatives.
Hafis Balogun, Country Manager, Kenya Airways, who received the NANTA delegation, praised the association’s Africa to Africa Tourism Promotion Campaign, saying that Kenya Airways will partner with the association to give a different holiday experience to Nigerians and Africans interested to visit Kenya.
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 to which NANTA will be the driving force.
“We have taken note of the desire to rebrand and drive the Kenya Holidays with safari, beach shopping tourism products enabled agenda, and with your deserving collaboration, Kenya tourism would rebound fast,” Balogun said.
During the association’s visit to Ethiopian Airlines office in Lagos, Akporiaye reiterated the need for intra-African tourism rebirth and challenged the management to facilitate the promotion of Ethiopian religious tourism and its agricultural offerings.
Elated at the NANTA Africa Tourism Promotion campaign, Ethiopian Airlines general manager, Nigeria, Shimeles Arage, said the Ethiopian national carrier has been in the forefront of African connectivity and integration. He said the airline hauled across the world the Covid-19 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 truly letting Africans and Nigerians know more about Ethiopia tourism which I must admit, we have not given the true focal attention. We are with you on this amazing Africa to Africa tourism initiative,” Arage said.
Addressing Rwanda Air management, Akporiaye stressed that Rwanda Air has shown capacity and discipline since bestriding the African aviation space, hence the need to be part of the NANTA-driven African tourism promotion agenda, particularly in showcasing its famed tourism infrastructural renewals and agricultural offerings.
“I 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,” said Muhamud Wayiga, country manager, Rwanda Air.