By Kenneth Otim
Air transport in Uganda is a growing industry. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) a government agency is responsible for regulating the aviation industry in Uganda. CAA is helping to improve the operation of air transport within the country and this will in the end help increase the number of tourists to Uganda.
Plans of improving the aviation sector in the country are ongoing. Entebbe Airport is being expanded to handle more passengers, cargo of about 100,000 tonnes. This will indeed help increase number of tourists.
The domestic flight terminal at Entebbe International Airport (EIA) needs to be improved on to help carry out more domestic flights. The CAA can then partner with the different air craft operators in the country and engage in a promotion campaign to interest more Ugandans to visit tourist attractions and in effect help increase tourists in Uganda and revenues of the country.
In Africa, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Central Africa Republic and Malawi are said to be countries most likely to experience a high traffic of passengers due to many factors such as the presence of the UN base at Entebbe, the discovery of oil in Hoima and the plans to construct an air field in Hoima for that purpose and for domestic flights.
Uganda is also playing a role in peacekeeping in Somalia, Central Africa Republic and Southern Sudan and the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) aggressive plans to attract tourism. In 2017 Uganda's international passenger flow was registered at 1,511,207 giving an increase of 7.8% while the domestic passenger flow was registered at 18824 giving an increase of 32.9%.
The CAA should have plans to develop a second international Airport and improve on the condition of the various 13 air fields in Uganda which will be of importance, especially in developing the tourism sector within the country and help increase the safari tours in the country.
One of the challenges I know being faced by the aviation industry is a high operation cost brought about by high prices of aviation fuel that hikes the flight tickets. The CAA can enter into partnership with aircraft operators to have a special promotion to fly to various tourist destinations on agreed days. An example is when the CAA arranged a special promotion for Uganda to test the sky in partnership with the different aircraft operators.
This increased CAA's visibility among the public. Jambo Jet's entry into Uganda air business with a fare of 400,000 for a one way ticket to Nairobi is the cheapest so far in the region and has made air travel more affordable to majority of people who travel for business or leisure in the region and beyond. Such can be a good marketing strategy with the air operators, the tourism destinations and UTB to increase safari tours in the country.
The Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) is equally doing the same to boost tourism in Kenya by partnering with Kenya tourism agencies to provide cheap transport services to various tourism destinations in Kenya
Uganda has got many tourist attractions that are loved by many tourists that some of its citizens have not visited before. With such marketing campaign and promotions many Ugandans will be willing to fly to various tourist destinations, which will boost the tourism industry in Uganda.
These tourist attractions of mountain gorillas, chimpanzees, lions, creator lakes, mountain climbing, bird watching, rafting culture and the land scape or vegetation makes Uganda the pearl of Africa which the CAA can in partnership create marketing campaigns and forge bilateral agreements with air operators, countries that provide tourist or the potential to do so to promote the tourism industry, increase safari tours and promote Uganda exports.
According to the travel and tourism economic impact in 2017 in Uganda by the World Travel and Tour Council, the total contribution of travel and tourism to the GDP in Uganda was sh6,171.5b ($1.8b) representing a 6.6% of GDP in 2016, and is forecast to rise by 14.5% in 2017, and to rise by 7.1% pa to sh14,042.4b ($4.1b), 8.0% of GDP in 2027. The visitor exports generated was sh2,592.9b ($764.9m), 15.7% of total exports in 2016 and this is forecast to grow by 23.0% in 2017, and grow by 7.4% pa, from 2017-2027, to shillings 6,535.2bn (USD1,927.8mn) in 2027.
In a nutshell the involvement of the CAA to promote the tourism industry in Uganda will contribute a big margin of revenue to the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and should be emphasized in the CAA master plan because air transport an essential service industry that can attract business and tourism for the development of a modern economy
The writer is a senior public relations officer of the Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited