The Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism Ambassador Khamis Kagasheki has assured that Tanzania's tourism industry was on major rebound with nearly six international airlines now fighting to include Kilimanjaro Airport in their list of potential destinations.
"The world seems to have just discovered the country's northern zone as potential and most attractive tourism destination," stated Mr Kagasheki during the occasion to receive the Qatar Air flight QR 546 which marked the Middle-East's airline's maiden landing at the Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA) in the course of last week.
"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 Mr Kagasheki.
Two weeks ago, Kenya's national carrier (Kenya Airways) made the 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 commuting from next September. Other International carriers currently using the terminal include the Royal Dutch (KLM) and Ethiopian Airlines.
Transport Minister, Dr Harrison Mwakyembe who officially handed the 'airport keys,' 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 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 neighborhood every year," said Mr Kibelloh.
"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.