In 2022, 1.6m Nigerians Travelled Abroad, 700,000 more than in 2021.
This is according to the recent report by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority NCAA.
Nigerians spent over $1.5B USD buying international tickets in 2022 according to the National Association of Nigerian Travel Agents NANTA.
According to Airline departure Figures available to Atqnews UK, USA, UAE and Saudi Arabia are the biggest destinations for Nigeria Travellers. These are the traditional destinations for Nigerians for Visiting Friends and Relatives VFR, School and Business. UAE is the 3rd most popular even with the stoppage of flights and visas it still ranked high.
Saudi Arabia is the 4th destination and is for Religious Tourism. The other Leading Destinations for Nigerian Travellers based on Airline data is Canada and India. Canada is for Schools and migration while India is for Medical Tourism, Kenya, Egypt and Turkey are for Leisure, Business and MICE.
This increase over 2021 can be attributed to improved Economic Activities, Pent up demand(Revenge Travel) and the “JAPA Syndrome”(Nigerians relocating for School and jobs).
Dubai, UAE has over the years become the favorite Destination for the Nigerian Leisure Travellers but since 2021, Nigeria and UAE have been in a love lost relationship which got worse in 2022 with the stoppage of visa issuance to Nigerian passport holders. It is alleged that this is because of the Emirates airlines trapped funds in Nigeria.
Turkey also stopped the online visa for Nigerians with US, UK and Schengen Visas. Ethiopia also stopped visa on arrival for Nigerians, Kenya migrated from Airport Visa on Arrival for Nigerians to E-Visa.
These 4 factors altered the Leisure dynamics for Nigerian Travellers. In 2019 leading up to 2021, Dubai, Johannesburg and London were Nigerians favorite Leisure Destinations. 58,000 Nigerians visited South Africa in 2018 but after the bust up in 2020 and subsequent evacuation of Nigerians from South Africa, the numbers have plummeted. Year 2022 will be the first time South Africa will not be in the Top 10 of favorite Destinations for Nigerians tour Operators since 2010.
Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt and Zanzibar in Tanzania became the favorite Leisure Destinations in 2021 and 2022.
Kenya sneaked into the Top tier with a combination of MICE and Leisure offerings for Nigerians. Kenya offers beaches, quality accommodations and decent Shopping. Though not on the scale of Dubai, Egypt and Turkey but decent enough for the Nigerian Travellers.
The JAPA brigade moved mainly to UK and Canada. Usually, the UK and Canada visas are among the toughest visas to get but in 2021 and 2022, Canada and UK seemed to depopulate Nigeria of its skilled and educated people. Visas were issued to whole families and in some cases flight tickets were sent to evacuate the Nigerians.
The effects of these mass emigration is being felt in the Banking and Health Sector. A particular bank lost 36 IT workers out of 44 and quickly suffered erratic online services.
The JAPA brigade are not interested in African Destinations because they were already successful in Nigeria and desired to move to a much more advanced society.
Manchester seems to be the biggest gainer of the JAPA brigade. In 2019 and 2021, Manchester, UK was not in the Top 10 destinations for Nigerians but in 2022, Manchester sits pretty in the most desired location outside London.
UK Universities issued over 31,000 admissions to Nigerians and allowed them to come with over 38,000 dependants.
US Embassy says that the Lagos Centre is now one of the top visa issuing centres in the World.
Skilled Nigerians are emigrating for many reasons. According to a report in the Punch newspapers.
“Bad leadership, socio-economic issues, inflation, lack of opportunities and insecurity are the main reasons people are leaving the country. Before the economic crisis, ‘japa’ was not a big thing. Nigerians could travel to several countries without needing a visa and most always returned home. ‘Japa’ is a Yoruba slang that roughly means “to cut loose”.
There are now unscrupulous Tour Operators who are using tours as cover to sell travel to the lower section of the society also looking for a better future. These travel agents are complicit in the visa scandals that distort the image of the Nigerian Traveller.
They do a lot of damage to the image of Nigeria and should be restrained.