Filed in Travel & Recreation by on January 6, 2012

We are creating attraction for people to visit Nigeria, says Elisha
Friday, 06 January 2012 00:00 BY WOLE SHADARE

Maistry Elisha is the managing director, Peacock Travels and Tours (Pty), South Africa. In this interview with WOLE SHADARE, she spoke on how to grow travel business in Nigeria, poor air connections in Africa and xenophobia in South Africa among other issues. Excerpts

WHAT is your assessment of the level of business and leisure travels between South Africa and Nigeria?

We need to change the perception of Nigerians in South Africa and ensure we profile the Nigerians as a nation that will add economic value to South Africa. We need to see them as tourist and not opportunists.

On the business side, we should set up a Business Expo with Nigeria and South Africa and use the Nigerian Embassy in South Africa to sponsor this together.

What is your assessment of the travel management sub sector and the travel industry generally in South Africa?

In my opinion, I see this industry as being highly competitive and you require to be a survivor in this cutthroat business. However, with this said one requires to be a differentiator and an innovator and this is one of our main focuses in our business. Our intention is to grow Peacock travel as the pride in the travel sector in Southern Africa.

How do you plan to convince more Nigerians of the need to make South Africa their travel or tourist destination?

We need to understand what is the Nigerian market looking for. Is it the sea, mountains or just peace and quite places? Once we know their needs, then we can show them how attractive South Africa is to meet that need. We need to explore both drive and fly opportunities

In what ways do you plan to contribute to the growth and success of the company?

My plan of action is to build relationships within the business sector and make Peacock Travel a well-established and reliable brand in Southern Africa. My team and me would provide world-class service that is sustainable and we would take the Peacock name from being good to great. We are looking at improving the bilateral relationship that exists between South Africa and Nigeria. Our intention is to expose the nationals of both nations to the unpopular tourist destination.

What plans do you have in place to convince more South Africans to visit Nigeria for business and leisure purposes?

We want to create opportunities that are attractive to South Africans, there must be an attraction for people to want to go to Nigeria and we need to explore all the strengths of Nigeria and use this effectively.

Some Nigerians and other black Africans are skeptical about coming to South Africa over issues bothering on xenophobia. Are you sure this will not be a hindrance?

Perceptions are long embedded in the minds of the South Africa people. We need to change the stigma, find a solution to stop illegal immigrants to South Africa, as they are the ones that give the country a bad name. We need to find a way to make Nigerians in South Africa understand that illegal business just gives their country a very poor name and status. There must be some literature to all travellers on this matter.

Can you give us your background in the travel management sub-sector or the airline industry in general?

I have the opportunity to work in the travel sector for 12 years. I am one of few consultants that have experience in all areas in the travel sector. I have worked on retail leisure, corporate, airline and wholesale. To be able to attain such knowledge in the travel sector works to my advantage on everyday basis in growing our business.

How do you see your new appointment/employment as a top management member of Peacock?

I am blessed to be given this opportunity. I look at my position as an empowerment tool. As a female, I am humbled to be afforded this opportunity to show my passion in this industry. In every business there are challenges and with these challenges it will bring forth great rewards.

What growth potentials do you see in the sector?

There is huge potential in the small and medium scale enterprises sector and there are great opportunities for people to become entrepreneurs. They just need to be skilled and mentored. The government in South Africa has placed huge development in this sector of the economy. Many Nigerians can take up this opportunity legally and become great businessmen/women

How can African carriers take a major share of the market when foreign airlines have dominated African skies?

We should invest more in airplanes and capital expenditure. Africa should take charge of its continent and stop depending on USA or Europe to bring in their airlines to dominate the African market.

Air links in Africa is still very much inadequate. Often, people travel to Europe first before they connect some cities in Africa. How can air links on the continent be developed as those of advanced countries like Europe?

There are risks to air links and it seems a hold to a monopoly at the moment. We need more providers to support growth and it must be affordable. We need to import skill and train our people to take over.

Do you subscribe to merger of some African airlines?

Yes, I think that we should have some sort of African Alliance to ensure all African countries subscribe to and create a big carrier as opposed to using foreign airlines. In Europe, we have Air France-KLM, Lufthansa and Swiss Air, Lufthansa and Brussels Air. In Africa, South African Airways, Egypt Air and Ethiopian Airlines, which are all members of the Star Alliance network, are considering some sort of cooperation.

Do you expect that this may lead to merger?

It would make absolute economic sense for this to happen; when all resources are pooled then we have greater control and authority in Africa.

Where do you see Africa air travel in the next 25 years?

I see major growth in Africa; there is a lot of interest in Africa to grow the economy. Also, we have the resources to tap on. Usage of our own Jet fuel and not import, increase trade relations between African states and train and up-skill our people.


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