S/Africa rakes in over N755m from visa to Nigerians in H1, 2015

Posted: August 4, 2015 in general
.  From L-R: Ambassador Mokgethi Monaisa, South Africa Consul-General in Lagos; Thobi Duma, South African Airways Country Manager Nigeria and Nkereuwem Onung, President of Nigeria Association of Tour Operators during the South African Tourism Trade Workshop in Lagos.

From L-R: Ambassador Mokgethi Monaisa, South Africa Consul-General in Lagos; Thobi Duma, South African Airways Country Manager Nigeria and Nkereuwem Onung, President of Nigeria Association of Tour Operators during the South African Tourism Trade Workshop in Lagos.

South Africa has issued a total of 133, 114 visas to Nigerians from the period January 2013 to June 2015, the country’s Consul General, Ambassador Mokgethi Monaisa has said.

Making this disclosure, Thursday, at the Lagos leg of the South Africa Tourism (SAT) West Africa Trade Workshop, which held at the Federal Palace Hotel, Lagos, the envoy Monaisa, further added that for the first quarter of this year alone, 25, 168 Nigerians have been issued with visas to South Africa, representing over N755 million, in prevailing costs.

According to Monaisa, the seriousness his country attaches to the permanency of relations with Nigeria is also evident in the volume of trade and investment which, he explained, has remained on the rise.

Declaring the event open, Monaisa, who called for a minute silence for the victims of ‘any form of tourism, being holiday or religious pilgrimage’, noted that the year 2014 was a testing year in general for tourism performance around the world with plane crashes, ebola virus, topping the list.

“South Africa and surely Nigeria saw a mixed performance across key source markets. Even in the face of the ebola virus, tourism arrivals still grew substantially in 2014. However, we have set for ourselves the ambitious target of 12 million international tourists by 2018. We also aim to increase domestic holiday trips from 2.8 million in 2014 to 4.1 million by 2010. This will put us firmly on track to achieve our target of creating 225, 000 additional jobs in the tourism sector by 2020,” the envoy remarked.

Cross section of SA Specialist graduands displaying their certificate during the South African Tourism Trade Workshop in Lagos

Cross section of SA Specialist graduands displaying their certificate during the South African Tourism Trade Workshop in Lagos

Continuing, Monaisa said that his country was also driven by the market projections by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) which had estimated that Africa will receive 85 million international tourist arrivals by 2020 and 134 million by 2030 representing 6.3% and 7.4%, respectively, of international arrivals worldwide.

“Africa needs to be prepared, but equally important is that the product itself has to be continuously enhanced. Tourists vote with their feet and their vote is influenced by the quality of service they receive, ease of travel and the value for money,” he said.

The envoy who posited that tourism is making a huge contribution to Nigeria’s and South Africa’s economies and as such is creating hope and opportunity for many people in both countries, noted that it is arguably the sector of economy with the greatest competitive advantage.

“If we continue to work together and do the right things, tourism can do even more to reduce unemployment and eradicate poverty. In South Africa, tourism alone has contributed no less than 10% to the gross domestic product in 2014 and more importantly, one in every ten jobs is supported by tourism,” he stated.

The envoy who explained that the decision of his country to open a tourism office in Lagos and the recent VFS office in Port Harcourt, was informed by the fact that West Africa was the catchment area of South Africa, with Nigeria accounting for most if its tourist arrivals, said tourism figures have ‘continued to grow year in year out.’

“Allow me to share with you some visa statistics between the two largest economies in Africa. Between January 2013 and June 2015, a total of 133, 114 visas were issued. A breakdown shows that in 2013, 59, 657 visas were issued; in 2014, 48, 289 visas; and in 2015, 25, 168 visas issued.

“South Africa’s Bi-lateral relations with Nigeria continue to strengthen. A Bi-National Commission of Cooperation between the two countries was established to lay a firm foundation for cooperation and partnership within the broader objectives of the Africa Renaissance, and have since then grown from strength to strength.

“The seriousness South Africa attaches to the permanency of her relations with Nigeria is also evident in the volume of trade and investment that keeps on rising between the two countries,” Ambassador Monaisa stressed.

On his part, Mr Nkereuwem Onung, President of Nigeria Association of Tour Operators (NATOP), urged participants at the workshop to partner with the country in marketing the destination, just as he further appealed to the South African government to also reciprocate its huge inbound figures from Nigeria outbound wise.

“Please don’t allow you views and perceptions of this country be tainted by all the negative stories that you hear and read in foreign media. Those are not our narratives, are narrative is just one, that is Nigeria is good people and great land, a fascinating and enchanting land where you have a rich blend of natural and manmade elements living in peace and harmony. It is a historic and enigmatic place to experience.

“Nigeria is a destination waiting to be discovered not just as a business hub but as a tourism hub, with diverse, rich and enduring leisure and entertainment packages for the people. There are a lot to explore and experience in this country and let me assure you that as you look to marketing Nigeria in your market and around the world, you would find us (NATOP) a worth partner because we have members and operators in all the service areas, from ground operators to tour guides who would partner with you in giving your clients a memorable tour of Nigeria.

“The safety and security of your clients, your persons and businesses are guaranteed because Nigeria is safe despite the posts of security glitches and challenges that we are presenting witnessing in about three states in the northern eastern part of the country.

“Nigeria remains one of safest countries in the world, a destination of peace and harmony; a destination that guarantees you the most fulfilling experiences and quick returns on your investment,” he stressed.

Also remarking, Aminu Agoha, President of the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA) pledged the support of his organization to work to improve the trade relations with South Africa in terms of the inbound traffic of both countries, even as he condemned the recent xenophobic attacks in South Africa.

“The recent xenophobic attacks in South Africa, we express the hope that the situation will never happen again. Though no Nigerian lost his or her life, but then again, a life is a life and considering also the effects of a reprisal attack,” he said.

Describing the incident as a problem for the tourism industry, the NANTA chief, however, assured that his association will cooperate with both countries to boost inbound and outbound tourism.

“We wish to continue to strengthen the relationship between both economies by working to improve inbound and outbound tourist traffic in both countries. We will continue to pledge our support to SAT to boost tourism in both countries,” Agoha said.

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