As airfares continue to surge, Nigerian travelers are expressing their disappointment and frustration, finding it increasingly challenging to embark on their desired trips. The surge in costs, coupled with economic uncertainties, has left many passengers in a state of dismay.
Approximately two weeks after President Bola Tinubu pledged to unify the nation’s multiple exchange rates, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) opted to float the naira at the Investor’s and Exporters’ (I&E) Window of the foreign exchange market. Since then, the naira has experienced a sharp decline from N471 per dollar to N867 per dollar.
This currency volatility has significantly impacted Nigerians, especially prospective international students hoping to resume school in September, as they face unpredictable fluctuations in foreign exchange rates.
Air ticket prices have skyrocketed, making travel exceptionally difficult for Nigerians, particularly when compared to neighboring countries like Benin and Ghana, where airfares remain notably cheaper.
The current policy of floating the Naira has done little to alleviate the situation. As the exchange rate continues to rise, most foreign airlines find their funds trapped within Nigeria due to a scarcity of dollars in the market. This scenario creates a problematic landscape for Nigerians who depend on reasonably priced flights for their business travel.
A PUNCH report quotes an Abuja-based potential traveler, Ade Johnson as saying that a significant increase in flight prices compared to a few months earlier, led many Nigerians to explore alternative options.
One popular choice is traveling via the Benin Republic, where airfares are considerably more affordable. Moreover, the proximity of Benin Republic to Lagos, with a travel time of less than an hour, adds to its appeal for cost-conscious travelers.
“The recent increase and fluctuation in foreign currency have affected my travel plans, especially considering the amount I had originally budgeted for the process,” said Success Apiaka, another traveler impacted by the currency situation. “I had to go back to my drawing board to replan and find the best way to achieve my travel goal.
“This meant cutting down on a lot of expenses, including food, clothing, and family-related costs, to meet the current exchange rate and make the most of every penny I have.”
The currency fluctuations have also posed additional challenges for Nigerian students, resulting in increased tuition fees, visa expenses, the International Health Surcharge, and the need to provide proof of sufficient funds for maintenance and upkeep.
Another affected traveler, Aisha Abdullahi revealed that currency fluctuations and the single exchange rate policy have significantly impacted her travel plans, causing her intended budget of N12 million to yield only 12,000 pounds instead of the expected 24,000 pounds. She has been forced to consider alternative arrangements, such as selling off properties and liquidating investments, to cope with the financial hurdle.
Amidst the challenging economic landscape, Nigerians are carefully weighing their options and making tough decisions to ensure their travel plans remain feasible amidst soaring airfares and currency fluctuations.
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