We need effective strategies for aviation security, tourism – Experts
Some experts in aviation security have called for strategies to ensure safety and security for air travel to enable the sector to contribute more to the nation’s tourism and economy.
They made the call on Saturday in Lagos at the 2nd Annual Memorial Lecture, in honour of late Job Onyeukwu-Onyenso, immediate past Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Pathfinders International Limited.
The lecture had the theme: “Safety and Security in African Tourism – Threats, Risks and Opportunities”.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Pathfinders International Limited is an aviation security company with operations in Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
The company provides aviation security services covering aircraft guarding, passenger and baggage profiling, document checks, baggage reconciliation, counter control, cargo security and catering escort, among others.
Mrs. Nkechi Onyenso, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the firm, said aviation plays a critical role in the growth and sustainable development of any economy.
“The oil that lubricates aviation is aviation security because where the passengers do not feel safe to travel by air they will look for other means of transportation.
“We know that where the passengers not only feel safe but are safe, they will travel by air for business, trade and tourism.
“Aviation can therefore be said to be an enabler of tourism,” she said.
Onyenso said that the International Air Transport Association (IATA) annual report for 2018 showed that the activities of Nigeria’s aviation sector contributed immensely to job creation in the country.
“The report revealed that aviation stakeholders such as airlines, airport operators, airport on-site enterprises, aircraft manufacturers, and air navigation service providers employed about 20,000 people in Nigeria’s labour market.
“Also, by buying goods and services from local suppliers the sector supported another 35,000 jobs.
“Foreign tourists arriving by air into Nigeria, who spend their money in the local economy, are estimated to have supported an additional 169,000 jobs. In total, about 241,000 jobs were supported.
“The air transport industry, including airlines and its supply chain, is estimated to support 600 million dollars of the total value of goods and services produced in Nigeria in the period under review”, she said.
Onyenso, while quoting the IATA 20-year passenger forecast study in 2018, said it was projected that the air transport business in Nigeria would grow by 174 percent in 20 years.
This, she said, would result in an additional 9.4 billion passenger journeys by 2037.
“If these estimates are met the increased demand would support approximately 4.7 billion dollars of GDP and create almost 555,700 jobs for the local economy.
“It is, therefore, necessary for all stakeholders in aviation to unite and agree on the practical strategies in ensuring the safety and security of our airports to encourage air travel for business and pleasure,” she said.
The Keynote Speaker, Mr. Nuah Padmore, Director of Aviation Security, Liberia Civil Aviation Authority, said that the aviation sector was indispensable to the tourism industry.
Padmore also said that tourists would naturally gravitate towards areas that are generally considered safe and secure.
According to him, the benefits of tourism include growth and boost in economic activities, country’s improved brand image and source of foreign exchange.
Other benefits are the promotion of cultural traditions, retention of historical sites, infrastructure development, a boost in wide-scale industry revenues and source of employment generation.
Padmore said that incidents of aviation security breaches had led to changes in the aviation sector, causing some tourists to lose faith in the security system.
“There will always be threats and risks in this business but through effective risk management strategies and proper planning, the sector will mitigate these challenges and turn them into opportunities,” he said.
One of the discussants, Mr Ikechi Uko, Founder, Akwaaba Afican Travel Markets， called on the government to do more in mitigating the security and safety challenges in the country to encourage tourists.
Mrs Joy Ogbebo, Chief Executive Officer, Aviation Consult Limited, said that tourism would not thrive in the absence of safety and security as they play critical roles in influencing people’s decision to travel.
Chairman of the event, Mr. Paolo Guidi, former manager, Alitalia Airlines (Africa), commended Pathfinders for setting a good example on how aviation security should be done.
He commended the management of the company for following the steps of the late founder, by ensuring compliance and respect for rules and regulations.
He urged stakeholders in the aviation sector to invest in safety, security, communication and proper documentation of data to improve the sector.