Uganda Airlines has entered into a partnership with Uganda Tourism Board (UTB), which will see the two entities do joint destination marketing in the tourist source markets of Europe, North America and Asia.
This, according to Deo Nyanzi, the airline's acting commercial director, explains why the national carrier established flights to the region's tourist hubs.
In the middle of December, Uganda Airlines launched flights to Zanzibar, the eighth on the route network of the airline that resumed commercial operations about four months ago.
"Marketing is not done locally but in the source markets," Nyanzi told The Observer. "By flying to Zanzibar, we are not targeting the local Zanzibari market but the tourists that come to the island for holiday because many would want to continue to Uganda but lack the means."
The World Bank, in its Economic and Statistical Analysis of Tourism in Uganda report, published in 2013, indicated that tourists' overall satisfaction with their trip to Uganda is high but are let down by local transport and insufficient visitor information.
Nonetheless, visitor arrivals continued to grow, earning the country more than $1.6 billion (Shs 5.8 trillion) during the 2018/19 financial year, up from $1.45 billion (Shs 5.3 trillion) in 2017/18, making the tourism sector stand out as the biggest foreign exchange earner for the economy, and overall, made about 7.9 per cent GDP contribution.
Through an ambitious tourism marketing and promotion strategy, Uganda aims at increasing the number of tourists from the current 1.3 million visitors to at least two million visitors in 2020. Once this is achieved, the sector is projected to rake in a minimum of $4 billion (Shs 14.6 trillion).
"From our engagements with tour operators both home and abroad, it is clear many tourists that come to the region want to visit the hinterland but are in most cases let down by flight connections. So, if a tourist comes from Europe to Mombasa or Zanzibar and is assured of a direct flight to Entebbe, they will end up adding Uganda on the itinerary," Nyanzi said.
According to Nyanzi, the first quarter-year since the resumption of Uganda Airlines operations projects a brighter future for the airlines. With its fleet of four Bombardier CRJ900 jets, Uganda Airlines increased its frequency on the Nairobi route to three daily flights plus a daily flight on the Dar-es-Salaam route.
This has enabled it to establish its mark on the route, sometimes forcing Air Tanzania to surrender its passengers from Dar-es-Salaam to Uganda Airlines.
"We wanted to offer frequency unlimited options for travelers' convenience. In a market where everyone offered flights on selected days, we discovered that it was limiting on the part of the travelers but with daily flights, travelers can choose a day convenient to them," Nyanzi said.
The airline expects in 2020 to take delivery of two Airbus A330-800neo for its long-haul routes to Europe, Middle East and India.