An Ilorin based air travel agent, Al-abrar Air Travels and Tours has canvassed for more airlines to operate at the Ilorin International Airport.
Speaking during a telephone chat with Pilot Aviation, the Chief Executive Officer of the outfit, Sheikh Abdulrazak Ishiaq said “Ilorin International Airport is long due for more airlines to open more routes.
According to him, if there are more airlines, more routes will be opened up such as flying from Ilorin to Kano and Port-Harcourt for instance.
Ishiaq noted that the airport is of international standards and facilities therefore due for expansion beyond the Abuja and Lagos routes.
Meanwhile, travel agencies in the country have called on stakeholders in the aviation to be more proactive and demand improvement in the affairs of the industry come 2017.
The agencies, under the aegis of National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies (NANTA), said only by demanding for better services will the sector make appreciable growth.
In a related development, the association has reiterated call for the merger of aviation and tourism, citing that they are often under one umbrella in countries where tourism is mainstay of the economy.
President of NANTA, Bankole Bernard, told reporters that the association has been able to galvanise interest in the industry by mounting pressure on key officials.
Bernard said that NANTA had several meetings with the Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, on some issues that are getting attention currently and would not relent in the New Year.
According to him, “A lot has happened to our industry. Bad runway at Abuja airport is disturbing. We have forex issue and deteriorating infrastructure at our airports. Government is paying attention to those things because we have not stopped talking. The Minister is making clarifications on airport concession. Concession would let us have good value for investment. We need to ensure that there are good policies. That is why we all must continue to pay attention and ask for improvement,” he said.
Bernard assured that NANTA, in partnership with some bodies in the sector, would continue to work harder to ensure that the industry gains better relevance.
He added that the association would continue to harp on the need to bring tourism on the side of aviation, describing tourism as the largest portfolio from which the country can bounce back rapidly, if the government wants to quickly re-engineer the economy.
He said it was unfortunate that tourism is not yet reckoned with in Nigeria and still at an embryonic stage.
Vice President of the association in Lagos, Lola Adewole, added that the Nigerian government still sees and treats tourism as an instrument of entertainment and not tool of economic development.
Adewole stated that one of the advantages of tourism development is the potentials for job creation, adding that such jobs range from directly influenced positions like tour guides, hotel staff, coach services and restaurants among others.
She said: “Another important aspect of these businesses is that, tourist sites not only pay wages to their staff, but the tourists usually source goods and products locally, giving a boost to local industry. What’s great about tourism is that the supporting industries like retail and food production also benefit, although it is not as obvious to the untrained eye as this is mostly occurring behind the scenes,” she said.