On 31st May 2019, Mrs Fatima Garbati – one of West Africa’s shining travel and tourism experts breathed her last at the Obafemi Awolowo Teaching Hospital, Ile Ife, Nigeria. Her death sent shock waves across the length and breadth of Nigeria, her home country; more so as her departure left a huge gap in the country’s tourism and aviation sector where she quietly made her significant marks for the better part of her life.
While the Travel and Tourism sector continues to mourn the demise of this Jewel of Inestimable Value; friends, colleagues and family member will miss her dearly for her heart of gold. Mrs Fatima Garbati was a simple and an unassuming woman, yet, she is charming with a warm personality. Members of NATOP, an association which she was instrumental in its establishment and nurtured to fame, call her the keeper of the Mace of the Association, and they love her for her straightforwardness and forthrightness.
Fatima Garbati was a seasoned technocrat in Commercial Aviation, specializing in Economic Regulation, Pricing and Bilateral Air Services Agreements. She began her career at Nigeria Airways and attained the position of the Deputy Director of Marketing. This career spanned over 25 years and featured significant contributions to legislation that impacted positively to consumer protection and sustainable tourism in Nigeria and Africa.
She was Nigeria representative at the African Airlines Associations (AFRAA) and the African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC). She also served as the Chief Delegate for Nigeria on Commercial Aviation at IATA for a decade and subsequently as the chairman of the IATA Agency Panel for West Africa.
She left public service to establish an aviation consultancy outfit which handled projects that harnessed her competency in aviation operations and international regulations, but was called back into public service and made the Director of Air Transport and Economic Regulation at the NCAA.
Fatima was an avid tourism practitioner and served as the National President for the Nigerian Association of Tour Operators in 1993, as well as National Vice President for the Federation of Tourism Association of Nigeria.
She had a BA degree (English Major Subsidiary) from the Ahmadu Bello University Zaria Nigeria and a Post Graduate Diploma from the Institutes of Civil Aviation Cairo Egypt. She was honoured among the Top 100 African Women in Tourism at the Akwaaba: African Travel Market in 2017.
She passed away in the course of an unsuccessful surgery to remove Brain Tumour. Her remains has been interred at the Ebony Vaults besides the Ikoyi Passport Office, Lagos.
Her death is a great loss to everyone and she will be greatly missed.
May Her Gentle Soul Rest in Peace
Photo Credit: Ikechi Uko