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Nigerian travel agents accuse US consulate of stigmatisation

Access Bank
The National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA) has accused the US Embassy in Nigeria of stigmatisation after a US consulate official said visa facilitators and travel agents especially in Lagos were responsible for the delay in securing visa appointments.
In the video clip, a US consular officer said visa facilitators and travel agents operate with impunity and that as long as they are allowed to do that and as long as Nigerians continue to pay very high fees to them to get an appointment, the problem will persist.

“The problem that we have for being unable to increase our visa appointments is because our visa appointment system is being manipulated by visa facilitators and travel agents for their own financial gain, especially in Lagos. They operate in the parking lot at our office and we have little control over them because they are not operating on our property.

“Unfortunately, they operate with impunity and as long as they are allowed to do that and as long as Nigerians continue to pay very high fees to them to get an appointment that would likely continue and it makes it very hard for them to get appointments. There is no reason to pay additional fees to visa facilitators,” the US official said.

But NANTA’s leadership said the comment is encouraging the demarketing and stigmatisation of registered members of the association

NANTA’s national president, Susan Akporiaye, said the association will take up the issue with the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) as such comments can bear negatively on the private sector’s economic impact and effort.

She said NANTA is disturbed by the insensitivity of the consulate official who neither reached out to it or the regulatory body in Nigeria to officially complain or report the supposed infraction before going public.

She further called on the Federal Government to intervene and request the Embassy to withdraw its blanket negative comment against the Nigerian aviation downstream operators, noting that no foreign embassy in America will go public in the United States’ to describe American businesses as fraud and asking the public not to patronise them.

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.

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

“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, it should report them to NANTA or to the NCAA which regulates travel agents in Nigeria,” she said.

Daily Sun

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