Uganda Tourism Board Advocates Direct International Flights to Tourist Destinations

The Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) led by its CEO , Ms. Lilly Ajarova carrying out stakeholder engagements with among others the Immigration department to map-out strategic and creative ways of easing the inflow of international tourists in Uganda .

In a concerted effeort to boost revenues from the tourism sector and have Uganda as the leading tourist destination in East and Central Africa , UTB wants international tourists to be allowed direct flights to their tourism destinations within Uganda without first landing at Entebbe International Airport ..

These new innovative interventions are meant to reduce on the time and money tourists spending while having lay-overs at Entebbe International airport before connecting to the tourism destinations within the country. At the moment all international tourists must first land at Entebbe International Airport, go through immigration clearance before they can connect to their prefered tourism destinations a process that is not only costly but time wasting .

Ms. Lilly Ajarova, the CEO of UTB, underscored the importance of improving air connectivity to enhance the tourism sector’s growth. She noted that international tourism trends have evolved, with travelers seeking to spend less time on transit and more time exploring destinations.

Ms. Ajarova said that she had received complaints from some regional tour operators about the delays experienced and costs incurred while clearing tourists .

Ajarova was concerned that while Uganda is known and celebrated for having the largest population of mountain gorillas with competitive permit rates it has not fully optimized this tourism opportunity because of long distances and poor road infrastructure that the tourists have to endure before reaching the tourism sites.

“We are losing a lot of revenue from our Gorilla tracking. For all these years, we have been earning in Gorilla tracking, we have never reached 100 percent occupancy where we sell all our Gorilla permits,” Ajarova said adding that direct flights to destinations like Bwindi or Kisoro need to be encouraged .

This initiative aims to streamline the travel process for tourists, boost tourism arrivals, and increase the country’s tourism earnings.

Uganda’s international tourism numbers have been steadily recovering, with 842,429 international passengers recorded at Entebbe International Airport from January to June 2023. This figure surpassed the pre-Covid-19 levels recorded in the same period in 2019.

UTB is now urging the immigration department to extend tourists clearance to other aerodromes in Uganda for tourists to connect directly to their final destinations. This change would cut short connection flights from Entebbe to regional tourist destinations and reduce both costs and travel time for visitors.

Mr. Herbert Byaruhanga, the chairperson of the Uganda Tourism Association, has since supported the idea for direct connections and said that arrangement should even be extended to the entire East African region to facilitate direct flights for tourists from neighboring countries.

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