The Comptroller General of the Nigerian Immigration Service, Muhammad Babandede (MFR) has revealed the plans to digitalise tourist visa before the end of the year.
He assured that the digitalisation of tourist visa, which is ongoing, would further improve tourism and the ease of doing business in Nigeria.
Babandede made the disclosure when the Director-General of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Mr Folorunsho Coker and his team paid him a courtesy visit in his office, recently.
He explained that the tourist visa would be web-based, saying “Everything will be digitalized with no physical contact with anybody. Once you apply online, upload your application, submit, pay, and get approval, you start coming and within 24-48 hours, you get your tourist’s visa”
The Immigration boss also explained that Nigeria is quite liberal with tourists’ visa for people coming to the country for religious tourism. “We give them visa-on-arrival for certain churches because we know their spending will boost our economy”, he said.
However, Babandede pointed out that there are challenges in making tourists visa liberal because tourism has become the weakest link for entry into Nigeria but tourism visa will be possible without compromising national security.
He then promised to look into seeping the access for VOA to tourists once certain parameters where in place.
The Immigration boss, however, explained that the Migration Information Data Analysis System (MIDAS) recently launched by the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola will assist with statistics of tourists visiting Nigeria and more online
“The MIDAS will benefit a lot of people and organizations, Tourism will benefit from this, we are hereby inviting the NTDC to feed tourism content and activity into the MIDAS system for overall best tourism experience and sustainable economic development in Nigeria”, he said.
Coker, earlier in his speech congratulated the immigration boss and his teams on the disruptive innovations in the visa process especially the visa-on-arrival improvements.
The NTDC boss also congratulated the CGNIS on the contributions of NIS to the rise in Nigeria’s ranking on the ease of doing business.
He noted that the lack of human interphase on the VOA platform shows that the way forward lies in disruptive digital technologies for the acceleration of the development of Nigeria despite our challenges
While emphasizing the imports of visa-on-arrival for tourists into Nigeria, Coker noted that the ease of tourists coming into Nigeria and doing business in the country lies heavily on the successes of the visa-on-arrival for tourists.
According to the NTDC boss, “The fear of going to Nigeria now isn’t about how do I get the visa, it’s a certainty that one will get the visa-on-arrival once one follows very simple procedures. This has changed both images of Nigeria and the ease of coming to Nigeria and doing business in our country,” he said.
The NTDC boss also thanked the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) for the facilitation of data collection and services, especially at the land borders while imploring NIS to assist the Corporation with complete data.
His words; “While thanking you, on one hand, I will also ask on the other hand that some of the data we get is limited because we do not have a permanent presence at the borders. But the complete data that you have can assist us with the right data to the National Bureau of Statistics and Central Bank of Nigeria. So we would like to plead with you that the data starts to flow again monthly towards us.”
Coker further emphasized the need to deepen the collaboration between NTDC and NIS through the digitalization of data collation.
“We would essentially like to collaborate with the NIS to establish a seamless channel through which we can adequately furnish you with information on tourism activities to enable us to work better and ease bottlenecks,” he said.
He added that “I have noticed that the embarkation and disembarkation cards are difficult to write on because the boxes are too small, I humbly suggest that the card be uploaded online so that, from your electronic gadget, phone or laptop, you can fill the card online, this will better foreigners’ experience.”