A Nigerian travel guide and hospitality consultant has taken to social media to lament how the country’s strenuous visa application process is making the nation lose revenue that could have accrued through tourism.
Nneka Okaro who frowned at how Nigerians in the tourism industry have been losing potential clients said Nigeria is not just losing revenue but is losing big to Ghana and other neighbouring West African countries like Togo and Benin Republic.
An enraged Nneka stated this in a thread of tweets via her handle in reaction to a mail she received from one of her clients (a tourist) who cancelled plans to visit Nigeria after several attempts to get the country’s visa failed.
Sharing screenshots of the email she received from the client, she described the mail as the saddest thing she has seen in a long time and went further to share previous experiences.
In one of the mails, the supposed client wrote:
“Unfortunately, because of the incredibly difficult and lengthy visa process for your country, we have decided to reroute to Ghana. We will work with your part for tours out of Ghana to see Benin and Togo…
“It is by far the most difficult visa process I have seen in the world and I have been to 150 countries.”
She blamed the tourists’ ordeal on the lackadaisical attitude of Nigerian embassy staff, the country’s immigration service, Nigerian airlines among others.
Nneka called for a swift action from the government to tackle the problem to put an end to “another potentially major source of income is leaking from our hands. “
Saddest thing I’ve seen in a long time. I woke up to this. More tourism money lost for us (hotels, food, logistics, tips, souvenirs, etc).
In 2019, I lost 3 groups of 10, and a couple of smaller clients. All re-routed to Ghana where the process and economy are easier, more attractive and safer for visitors. Not to mention those who never bother to get in touch when they hear how cumbersome and inefficient our processes are. I just dont want to cry this morning.
Another example – after 5 months of planning! For every tour I give, 7 are lost. That’s how grave it is. Look at it this way – Instead of Makoko community getting an infusion of over 100k in a week, they get say…10k.
That also applies to the driver we use, food vendors, and souvenir sellers (fabrics, art, sculpture, etc). Last year, 3 of my clients bought art worth N2,300,000. Many buy smaller souvenir pieces, sew clothes, etc.
While we’re busy chasing huge contracts, another potentially major source of income is leaking from our hands. I think it’s time we look into this as seriously as we handled the Ebola outbreak.
Now, we may say “But the U.S makes it hard for us to get visas, so we’re only reciprocating.” But no, it’s not that. Its about the inefficiency of the process and the laxity of our personnel abroad and at home.
An applicant books an appointment in New York only to go there on the appointment date to find a sign on the gate that reads GO TO ATLANTA FOR BIOMETRICS. Phone numbers listed on the website are out of service. Staff are asleep or uncooperative.
A few clients have had the runaround to 3 states just to submit applications. So, imagine leaving your home in Ilorin to Abuja, then being asked to go to Lagos from there. Ko le werk naa!! Then there’s the Visa on arrival option that to me is a joke.
Because you still need to apply to the Nigerian immigration for a VISA ON ARRIVAL APPROVAL LETTER via email which you may get or not. That is if you’re even responded to! To get this approval letter, you submit hotel, flights, passport info, etc.
So, when you hear Visa on arrival, it’s not that visitors simply buy a ticket and fly into Nigeria to be stamped in – as is obtainable in other countries, no. They must come with the approval letter from immigration. So, what’s the point, really?!
Most foreigners simply pay a fixer. Someone or a company that can handle all that stress for them and that runs into hundreds of dollars. Let’s ask ourselves if it’s worth it stressing themselves to come to Nigeria
Many still do, but they’re mostly business people, investors, organisations, extreme travellers or just people who can endure the pain. And that’s the story about our immigration system.
The airlines are not left behind. Delays, cancellations, online payment issues, non-acceptance of intl cards, delayed refunds on cancelled flights. These airlines in particular have caused my clients grief.
There are so many on disappointments, I can’t post all. But here’s one more.
Other Twitter users reacting to Nneka’s tweets also shared their ordeal.
A former British Deputy High Commissioner to Nigeria, Dr Andrew Fleming tweeted:
So sad & disheartening. Nigeria is one of the most incredible & diverse countries I have lived. The problem for many who have never experienced Nigeria is the influence of so many negatives, more people must come to dispel these. But I am dismayed visas aren’t fixed.@DrJoeAbah
— Dr Andrew Fleming (@Andrew007Uk) January 24, 2020
Popular travel journalist, Pelu Awofeso wrote:
“You see your helplessness in the scheme of things. The visitors chose to visit, regardless of the mostly negative news + periodic travel warning. You design the tour. At day’s end, they are forced to cancel altogether. You understand, but you can’t help feeling sad & numb.
“Soon, I will fetch & share 1/2 similar experiences we have had (2019). You see how things could be better done officially, but you see that individuals at the helm, paid with the people’s money, couldn’t be bothered. They continue to enjoy the privileges of the office still.”
See other reactions:
My guests from France last year told me how much stress they had to go through and the pressure involved. The website was down so they may made several attempts b4 they succeeded. Not so pleasant. Sorry about this.
— Olusola John (@OlusolaJon) January 23, 2020
Good morning sir read this, @raufaregbesola. What really got me angry is that the “Oyibo” football scout my elder brother invited for his foundation to pick football players in Satellite Town, was sent back after landing in Ikeja. I was so pissed by it all. Let’s fix this sir.
— ᴏᴍᴀsᴏʀᴏ ᴀʟɪ ᴏᴠɪᴇ™☤ (@OvieAli) January 24, 2020
I’ll die on the hill of pragmatism before I let misguided loyalties lead me to play myself. That same December, fuel scarcity ruined the experience for so many returnees. I took a flight to Ghana and went and saw for myself the potential they had for tourism.
— Nigerian God (@Echecrates) January 24, 2020
Yes. This is actually the problem. Incompetence. They have so trivialized the importance of tourism that they employ extremely lackadaisical people to handle something of such importance as long as they know them somehow and want to secure them with a job.
— The First Lady ♥™ (@JolaTheFirst) January 24, 2020
See Nneka’s tweet:
Saddest thing I’ve seen in a long time. I woke up to this. More tourism money lost for us (hotels, food, logistics, tips, souvenirs, etc)
In 2019, I lost 3 groups of 10, and a couple of smaller clients. All re-routed to Ghana where the process and economy are easier, pic.twitter.com/TZVXm77n4x
— Nneka Okaro (@tweeteringirl) January 23, 2020