Aviation operators targeting Uganda's tourism

Upon the arrival of Uganda's aircraft Bombardier CRJ900 into the country on April 23, Lilly Ajarova the Chief Executive Officer of Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) expressed optimism over the benefits, the carrier was to bring to Uganda's tourism industry.

Likewise, several aviation operators revealed plans aimed at tapping into Uganda's improving tourism potential, saying the number of tourists visiting the country is increasing day by day.

Anthony Njoroge, the country manager of AeroLink noted that the company currently operates three aircraft, which fly to different national parks in Uganda.

"World over, tourism numbers are increasing and Uganda is one of the key tourist destinations. We, therefore, want to position ourselves for such a viable market," intimated Njoroge.

He added that the planes are chartered to fly tourists to Semuliki, Kidepo, Murchison falls, and Queen Elizabeth national parks and Bwindi impenetrable forest.

Njoroge made the remarks during a public hearing of applications for air services licensing, which was conducted at Mestil Hotel in Kampala, on Thursday where aviation operators were subscribed to public scrutiny, as one of the processes for renewing or acquiring an aviation operating license.

According to David Kakuba, the Managing Director for Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), 48 operators are currently licensed to access Uganda's airports.

He also noted that some operators have already expressed interest in increasing the number of flights into Uganda, for their carriers.

"Every operator must, however, embrace competition which is very stiff in the aviation industry," advised Kakuba.

He, however, intimated that Uganda Airlines will be accorded preferential treatment like free office space and exemption from parking charges.

"As a national airline, its screens shall be used to market Uganda's tourism sites and destinations," stated Kakuba.

McKenzie Ongwen, the Chairperson for the licensing board revealed that the licensing process has been eased for air service operators in the interest of promoting Uganda's tourism sector.

"When an aeroplane is fit for flying and has competent and qualified personnel, as well as the certificate of regular maintenance, other processes are easier," noted Ongwen.

He called upon more air service operators to join Uganda's aviation industry, saying, there are ongoing expansion works being carried out at Entebbe, Arua, Kabale and Gulu airports.

Meanwhile, Godfrey Kitagenda of AirServ Company said, their operations are centred on humanitarian works among which include medical services.

He, however, acknowledged the booming tourism industry in Uganda, saying it's "tempting."

According to Ephraim Kamuntu, the minister for Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, Uganda has seen steady growth in tourism, in terms of tourists arrivals, foreign exchange earnings and tourism contribution to Gross Domestic Product(GDP).

Kamuntu said the sector accounted for 7.3% of GDP, foreign exchange earnings worth US$1.45bn and more than 600,000 jobs in the year 2017.

Source: New Vision