‘Air Peace New Route To Jo’burg Will Boost Tourism’
BY JUSTINA OKPANKU
Air Peace airlines on December 17, 2020, commenced a direct flight to South Africa using B777. Many applauded the leading airline in West Africa saying that the inaugural flight from Lagos to Oliver R. Thambo International in Johannesburg, which touched down at 8 am on Thursday reviving the Lagos-Johannesburg route, will provide immense value to travellers and boost tourism.
Africa Tourism Expert and Marketing Manager for Africa & Indian Ocean at Sun International, Mr. Didier Bayeye praised Air Peace airlines for the new effort. “The start of a direct flight between Lagos and Johannesburg will definitely boost tourism. Every connection between some destinations adds to the tourism numbers.
“Air Peace is using their B777 into Johannesburg. This type of aircraft is sophisticated and wide-bodied giving comfort to passengers.” Didier, the well-travelled industry professional, who described Lagos-Johannesburg route as a “low hanging fruits destination” foresees an increased demand hoping that Air Peace might need to increase the frequency sooner than expected.
Sharing the cheer was Dr. Chief Nike Okundaye founder of Nike Art Gallery, Lagos. “Great! Air Peace will now be taking travellers to South Africa,” she said excitedly. Mrs Okundaye, who visits South Africa periodically to teach art to women in Rhodes University, like people who have travel-related jobs heaved a sigh of relief pointing out that travelling is tedious in itself, a shorter option like the direct flight is always the best option.
Okundaye, who is affectionately called Mama Nike, said South Africa is a welcoming destination.
“I have realised South Africans love Nigerians. You know I was conferred an honorary doctorate degree ‘Doctor of Art’ by Rhodes University, South Africa in 2019. I teach South African women painting and tie and dye. I was well-received,” she said. Adding: ”I don’t think Xenophobia is real. Do you know lots of Nigerians are doing an exchange programme in that small university town (Rhodes)? Nigerians are doing good.”
Lots of other travel trade operators were excited at the commencement of the regular commercial flights from Lagos, Nigeria to South Africa. They said it would go a long way in boosting the economy of both countries.
Not done, many took to the social media to congratulate Air Peace Limited saying that a “Page has been added to history.” They described the new venture as “awesome” and “amazing, “wishing Air Peace many safe landing and takeoff in South Africa and elsewhere.
One tour operator, Olanma Ojukwu of Gota Travel, Cotonou in the Republic of Benin hailed the new move. “Africa is moving… Congrats Africa!” she noted. Another said ”great job.” The job will be beneficial for Nigeria and South Africa’s economy and all-important tourism and business travel sectors, which have suffered a setback in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Interestingly, the Rainbow Nation is a top spot for business conference and trade shows. Tourism is acknowledged in the new growth path as one of the six economic pillars of South Africa. Tourism accounts for about nine per cent to South Africa’s economy in 2019. The tourism sector adds unique value to the economy of any country, if well handled. Without a doubt, Air Peace will be contributing to the economic development of Africa.