The Uganda Tourism Board and Uganda Airlines have renewed their joint efforts to promote the country’s tourism potential to the world.
As part of the efforts, UTB hosted the national carrier staff on a six-day tourism familiarization trip to Southwestern 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 the 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 was part of the three-year deal between UTB and Uganda Airlines under which the latter committed to promote Uganda on some of their platforms around the world.
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 traveling 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 is 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 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.”
“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,”
The UTB CEO, Lilly Ajarova said that the Uganda Airlines partnership is part of an on-going 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.