By Edwin Muzahura
Hey folks, it’s a new year and we are all optimistic about it.
The President’s message was particularly refreshing as far as Tourism is concerned.
He highlighted need for increased Publicity, Marketing and Awareness; Above all he committed to having our National Carrier back into the Skies. The much awaited Uganda Airlines.
The Airline concept is very welcome for Tourism Development especially if we develop it gradually.
We don’t need to invest into very huge crafts plying International routes i.e the Heathrow, Amsterdam, Brussels in the initial stages. That will make losses with huge over heads and collapse in the following years.
Our model should be to start a local airline domestically and reduce fairs going to Kihiihi, Kasese, Gulu, Masaka, Soroti, Kisoro, Pakuba, Arua.
Why should a Tourist pay between $300 to $ 400 to visit our parks, really?
All our aerodromes should be improved with good simple amenities like arrival and departure lounges and good tarmac.
When we have regular scheduled flights locally at affordable rates, then w’lle expand to regional hubs of Kilimanjanro, Nairobi, Dar es salam, Mombasa and Zanzibar.
The Nairobi-Entebbe connection or flight for that matter is the most expensive short haul flight anywhere in the world making it very expensive for visitors to come to the Uganda and hence choosing to stay in Kenya or go to Tanzania or Rwanda on Rwanda Air.
After we have reduced regional connection costs through our competitive and well positioned Uganda Airlines, we can start the cargo section and plan to go for the strategic long haul routes that make meaningful sense in terms of Tourism and investment.
Then we can have Uganda Airlines landing at Heathrow, Vienna, Jo’burg, Amsterdam, New York, Delhi, Shanghai, Berlin etc.
This should be accompanied by aggressive Marketing through PR firms to attract arrivals from the big Tourism Source Markets.
There already thousands of Tourists regionally that would be interested in visiting Uganda and these should be the low hanging mangoes for us before we get going international.
And by the way we don’t have to fully invest in the Airline alone as Government. We can partner with key strategic partners but with majority shareholding and control Destination branding aspects through the Airline.
That way our Tour Operators and Travel agents will create special packages especially through the Tourism low season and the rest will be history.
Otherwise it’s purely our own mandate to Market our own country and our endless complaints about the high connections rates on Kenya Airways (KQ) between Entebbe and Nairobi won’t get us anywhere.
The airline is called Kenya Airways not Uganda Airlines.
We must start our own or just shut up. And when it’s up and running it should be our job to make sure that it runs professionally and profitably with maximum discipline and support.
So the President is spot on and the least he should have is everyone’s support!
Edwin Muzahura is the marketing manager for Uganda Tourism Board