Kilimanjaro — THE Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Ambassador Khamis Kagasheki, has assured that Tanzania's tourism industry was on a major rebound with nearly six international airlines scrambling to land at Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA).
"The world seems to have just discovered the country's northern zone as a potential and most attractive tourism destination," stated Ambassador Kagasheki during an occasion to receive Qatar Airways Flight QR 546, which marked the Middle-East airline's maiden landing at KIA, on Wednesday.
"Today, we are inaugurating Qatar's flights to Kilimanjaro but already other airlines such as Emirates and Turkish Airways have expressed interest in adding KIA to their various global destinations," said Ambassador Kagasheki.
Two weeks ago, Kenya's national carrier (Kenya Airways) made its first landing at KIA promising to be connecting Kilimanjaro with Nairobi with direct flights, six-times a week and to increase the frequency to daily starting September. Transport Minister, Dr Harrison Mwakyembe who officially handed keys for the airline's offices at the airport, to the Qatar management, said the airline's decision to include Kilimanjaro to its Tanzania's flights log was a welcome move which was also beneficial to both parties.
"Kilimanjaro terminal is gateway to Mount Kilimanjaro, Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti National Parks, the world's famous destinations visited by millions of foreign tourists from all over the world; therefore, the ability to identify their airlines with these legendary features also gave the companies more mileage.
The Board Chairman for Kilimanjaro Airports Development Company (KADCO), Ambassador Hassan Kibelloh, was optimistic that the daily service connecting Kilimanjaro to Doha will further stimulate the growth and help the airport fulfill its mission of becoming the most preferred gateway to the Northern tourism circuit of Tanzania.
"We are very happy with the Qatar Airways move to fly to KIA a terminal which has a five-star status when it comes to environment conservation and right now our management is setting out to plant 300,000 trees in the neighbourhood every year.
"Travelers from Europe and America will have another option to reach Kilimanjaro", he said, adding that while the Doha hub provides many connection opportunities to big capitals and cities around the world, KIA on the other hand, connects the world to the East African tourism circuits.
KIA has meanwhile, embarked on major terminal renovations and expansion projects that will cost over 25 million Euros. The airport handles nearly 700,000 travelers per year, though with the introduction of more international flights the number may reach a one-million figure this year.