KAMPALA – In a bid to promote Uganda’s unrivaled tourism potential to the world, Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) hosted staff of Uganda Airlines, on a 6-day tourism familiarization trip to South Western and Eastern Uganda.
The expedition covered Bwindi Impenetrable National Park for an experience with the prized silverbacks; Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda’s second most-visited National Park and the tourism city of Jinja, home to the Source of River Nile, the world’s longest river.
The Uganda Airlines team as well experienced the Equator, the Igongo Museum where they immersed themselves into the diverse and rich traditional history of the region including culture, food, dressing, music, housing and more. At Bwindi, they experienced the adventuresome Gorilla tracking and went on to feed their curiosity at Queen Elizabeth National Park where they saw several wildlife species such as buffalos, antelopes, lions, bush pigs and birds, among other wildlife species. They also relished the famous Kazinga Channel boat ride— perhaps the best opportunity to see the largest collection of animals in the Queen Elizabeth National Park.
The familiarization trip is within a landmark agreement signed between UTB and the national carrier in February 2020 to combine efforts to promote the tourism potential of Brand Destination Uganda.
Under the 3-year agreement, Uganda Airlines committed to brand its offices in various cities and airports across the world with Brand Destination Uganda messages as well as create opportunities to promote Uganda on some of the airline’s platforms and assets such as sales offices, aeroplanes, inflight magazines, inflight entertainment systems, online platforms- including website and social media sites.
Reciprocally, UTB through its tourism promotional campaigns and platforms, committed to present Uganda Airlines as the most convenient way to travel to Uganda in additions to empowering its staff with knowledge on Uganda as a tourist destination.
The duo, committed to run joint marketing campaigns, sharing market and research data as well as jointly develop #VisitUganda tour and travel packages for special events and holiday to motivate passengers to fly Uganda Airlines. All these and other initiatives, over and above increasing awareness about brand Destination Uganda in several key African source markets, should also ultimately further lower the cost- both in time and money of travelling to Uganda- whether it is for business or leisure.
Commenting about the initiative, Uganda Tourism Board’s CEO, Lilly Ajarova reiterated the Airline’s strategic importance to the promotion and positioning of Destination Uganda as a competitive destination.
“Given then the economic consequences of Covid-19 on economies and household incomes, the cost of travelling to individual destinations and costs at those destinations, will have an enormous impact on travel decisions in short to medium term. As such, the availability of direct flights to Uganda aboard the young and economic fleet, that offer unbeatable economics, increased operational efficiency and superior passenger comfort, gives Destination Uganda a competitive advantage,” she said.
She added that the trip was aimed at preparing Uganda Airlines to deliver the first experience of what Uganda has to offer.
“World over, airlines, especially national carriers offer a unique opportunity to deliver the very first experience of a destination- in this case, Destination Uganda. The food, the inflight information and entertainment as well as how well the staff across the entire airline chain are well informed about Destination Uganda, all combined are important in improving and influencing visitor perceptions in our favour,” she added.
Christine Kimbugwe, in charge of Holiday Packages and Tours at Uganda Airlines,said that the familiarization trip was just in time, as the airline prepared to launch its long-haul flights.
The Uganda Airlines team was drawn from the carrier’s offices in Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya- countries that are among the largest sources of visitor numbers to Uganda. The trip comes ahead of the much-awaited Uganda Airlines’ inter-continental operations to Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
In a March 2021 statement, the airlines said that they are undergoing a five-step certification process with Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA) for their two new A330-800neo aircraft.
They also announced that they are targeted initial routes, include: London, Dubai, Guangzhou and Mumbai. , with the airline operating direct flights to these city pairs from Entebbe International Airport. Uganda Airline has successfully obtained landing slots at London Heathrow Airport (LHR), in the United Kingdom and Dubai International Airport (DXB), in the United Arab Emirates.
While London is one of the top sources of tourists to Uganda, the United Arab Emirates, India and China are UTB’s latest target markets.
Lenny Malasi, the Uganda Airlines, Kenya Sales Manager said that the trip was eye-opening about Uganda, which he said, was indeed the Pearl of Africa.
“We now need to go back and strategise jointly on what we can do better to improve Uganda’s Tourism potential along our existing and new routes, he noted.”
He added, “Uganda is very attractive. This trip has opened up our eyes in terms of how we can showcase this attractiveness to Kenya, but also the entire world. This knowledge, we have gained, will further help us to position Uganda Airlines as a strategic tool in market Destination Uganda to the routes we fly to in Africa as well as the upcoming strategic routes to London, Mumbai, Guangzhou and Bangkok. These are very critical tourism markets,”
Ms Ajarova said that the Uganda Airlines partnership is part of an ongoing strategy to work with “both the private sector and other experts to develop innovative itineraries that optimize tourism value by encouraging longer stay and increasing expenditure along the value chain.”
ABOUT UGANDA TOURISM BOARD (UTB)
Created by the Tourism Act (2008), Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) is the official Government of Uganda’s destination marketing organization for Destination Uganda, the Pearl of Africa. UTB exists to sustainably promote Uganda as the most preferred and competitive destination for tourists and tourism investments in Africa. By working with stakeholders in the tourism sector to market Destination Uganda while encouraging investment, education, training and research as well as developing and monitoring standards in the tourism sector, UTB has since its inception, 13 years ago, grown the number of tourist arrivals by 78% from 844,000 in 2008/09 to 1,500,000 in 2018/19. This is slightly above global growth rates of 63% in the same period. As a result, sector foreign exchange earnings have nearly tripled, growing by more than 171%, from US$590 million to US$1.6 billion in the same period. Today the tourism industry directly and indirectly creates 667,600 jobs, 77% of whom are youth aged18-30 years and accounts for 7.7% of GDP.
By 2024/25 and barring for the effects of Covid-19, UTB plans to grow international tourist arrivals from the key source markets i.e., U.S., Europe and China from 210,000 to 500,000 tourists- a core element in increasing Uganda’s annual tourism revenues from US$1.6 billion to US$3.0 billion! This will increase the contribution of tourism to total employment from 6.3% to 10% which is equivalent to 433,000 new jobs or an increase from the current 667,600 jobs to 1,100,000 jobs. This will increase the total contribution of tourism to GDP from 7.7% to 9%.
“Known as the “Pearl of Africa,” Uganda is located in East Africa and offers some of the continent’s most diverse wildlife viewing, dramatic landscapes, and immersive cultural experiences and warm people and hospitality. Uganda is home to more than half the world’s population of endangered mountain gorillas and trekking to observe these gentle giants in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is one of the world’s top bucket list travel activities. Safari opportunities abound in savanna, forest, and wetland settings throughout 10 national parks, where visitors can come face to face with “The Big Five + 2 ” – lion, leopard, rhino, elephant, buffalo, chimpanzee and mountain gorilla– as well as giraffe, zebra, hippopotamus, crocodile, and more than half of all bird species found in Africa. Among Uganda’s extraordinary natural attractions are the snow-capped Rwenzori Mountains; expansive Lake Victoria, which forms the source of the Nile River; and Murchison Falls National Park.