With COVID-19, a major threat to air travel and economic growth, Nigeria may spend over $1.5 billion on international travel in 2022, THISDAY investigations has revealed.

In 2021, Nigeria spent about $1 billion on international travel despite and COVID-19 pandemic, which had negative impact on the global economy. But 2022 half-year results from travel agencies have shown that Nigerians may spend more money on foreign travel.

Recently, the International Air Travel Association (IATA) noted that Nigeria is one of the countries that quickly bounced back on international travel post COVID-19 restrictions.

IATA added that there are projections that in 2022, Nigeria would record about 4 million passenger traffic on international travel, compared to 2,219,146 recorded in 2021

The Managing Director of Nigeria’s second biggest travel agencies, Finchglow Travels and the former President of the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA), Mr. Bankole Bernard, told THISDAY that his company, which remained number one until few months ago when it was surpassed by Wakanow, hoped to earn N40 billion revenue by the end of 2022, which is about 35 per cent increase from last year’s N26 billion.

Bernard said that travel rebound started last year but restrictions due to COVID-19 protocols on air travel was a disincentive but this year many countries have opened up and many Nigerians are willing to travel, noting that many travel for business, some for tourism, others for medical reasons and many are overseas students, remarking that many Nigerians are travelling overseas for higher education.

He explained that the N26 billion revenues his company recorded last year was due to restrictions in air travel, disclosing that in 2019, his company earned N36 billion before COVID-19 devastation of the pandemic in 2020.

“In the last few months Wakanow has topped us at Finchglow, but we made N26 billion last year and we project that we would make N40 billion this year. This is very possible because in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic we recorded N36 billion revenue. That was money made by Finchglow alone but we have other two companies on IATA platform, which still earned revenue during the period,” Bernard said.

The former NANTA President said a lot of people are travelling because there is no restriction anymore, noting that Nigerians travel for many reasons.

“Nigerians have seen many people die, including their loved ones, so they have decided to enjoy their money. Nigerians are no more investing everything they have like before. They want to enjoy themselves because no one goes into the grave with his money. So there is paradigm shift in people’s perception of life. The attitude now is, let me enjoy my life. There is no need saving money for unborn child. Some have even relocated,” Bernard said.

He said that incidentally there is increase in some people’s income despite the seeming economic quagmire in Nigeria, stating that some Nigerians are doing multiple jobs across countries, circumstances facilitated by COVID-19 lockdown

“I have a brother that is doing three jobs. One of the jobs is in the UK, one in Canada and the other in Nigeria. In the UK he works with T-Mobile. He is a supervisor. The job he is doing is a specialized one; so many   people do not have that skill. Work modalities have changed. Also, many Nigerians are travelling overseas for education. Those that can afford it are leaving Nigeria to study overseas. Even those that cannot afford it are securing scholarship and when they get admission to study they can also work and pay some of their fees,” the Managing Director of Finchglow Group said.

Top 10 agencies that raked in over $1 billion in air travel in 2021 include Wakanow, Finchglow Travel, SatGuru Travel and Tours, Quantum Travels and Dees Travel and Tours.

Others were TouchDown Travels, TravelStart, 247 Travels, Super International Travels and Waheguru International Voyages.

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) stated that a total of 15,225,627 travelers passed through Nigeria’s airports in 2021.

This was an increase of 101.02 per cent in domestic and international travel when compared to 2020.

The details showed that the total number of international passengers who passed through Nigerian airports was 2,219,146, as against 1,408,026 passengers in 2020.

This represented 57.61 per cent growth rate, while in 2021, the total number of domestic passengers who passed through Nigerian airports was 13,006,481 as against 9,069,295 in 2020, which also represented a 43.41 per cent growth rate.

Furthermore, the data showed that the number of arrivals in 2021 stood at 6,533,740, which was higher compared to 4,870,072 in 2020.

On the other hand, departure stood at 6,472,741 in 2021 compared to 4,199,223 in 2020. Similarly, the total number of international passengers who passed through Nigerian airports was 2,219,146 in 2021 as against 1,408,026 passengers in 2020. This represented 57.61 per cent growth rate. Similarly, the number of arrivals in 2021 stood at 1,109,621, which was higher compared to 690,765 in 2020. Also, departure stood at 1,109,525 in 2021 compared to 717,261 in 2020.

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