By Lilly Ajarova
On my behalf and behalf of Uganda Tourism Board (UTB), I would like to congratulate the Government of Uganda under the leadership of President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, as well as the Management of Uganda Airlines and indeed the people of Uganda, upon the arrival of our first of two Airbus A330neo aeroplanes. Delivery of the second plane, is scheduled for January 2021.
The Airbus planes are central to Uganda Airline’s launch of long-range operations with non-stop intercontinental flights to Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. As UTB, we are very excited about this just-in-time launch of flights to especially the Middle East and Asia. While Europe has been our traditional source of tourists to Uganda, the Middle-East and Asia are emerging tourist markets that UTB has actively targeted in the recent past with promising results just before Covid-19 struck.
International experts have told us that in the context, of the economic consequences of Covid-19 on economies and household incomes, the cost of travelling to individual destinations and cost at those destinations, will have an enormous impact on travel decisions in short to medium term. As such, the availability of direct flights to Uganda aboard the A330neo, that is said to offer “unbeatable economics, increased operational efficiency and superior passenger comfort” should give Destination Uganda a competitive advantage. At UTB, even before Covid-19 struck, we had started rethinking tourism, with a strategy to rebalance and segment our tourism portfolio into 4 key tourist source, segments, namely: existing overseas markets, emerging overseas markets; regional/African market and the domestic market.
A stronger Uganda Airlines that flies to more destinations within Africa as well as the Middle East and Europe is undoubtedly a strategic national asset, at the right time. That is why, on February 5th 2020, we signed a memorandum of understanding with Uganda Airlines, to combine our efforts to promote the tourism potential of Brand Destination Uganda.
Under the 3-year agreement, Uganda Airlines will among other commitments brand its various offices in various cities and airports across the world with Brand Destination Uganda messages as well as offer a platform to promote Uganda on some of the airline’s platforms and assets such as aeroplanes and other branded materials.
Similarly, Uganda Tourism Board will, through our respective tourism promotional campaigns and platforms, present Uganda Airlines as the most convenient way to travel to Uganda. This will include, but is not limited to promotional materials, online platforms including website, social media platforms as well as other multimedia and experiential campaigns.
Uganda Airlines will also reciprocate by providing UTB with points of dissemination of tourism promotional information and campaigns through all their sales offices as well as the airline’s inflight magazine, inflight entertainment systems, online platforms- including website and social media sites. We will also be running joint marketing campaigns, sharing market and research data.
We will jointly participate in as well as enable Uganda’s other tourism players to participate in major African and international exhibitions, such as: Magical Kenya Tourism Expo, ITB Berlin, Indaba South Africa, Karibu Fair Tanzania, Akwaaba Nigeria, Arabian Travel Show and WTM London. We also plan to jointly develop #VisitUganda tour and travel packages for special events and holiday to motivate passengers to fly Uganda Airlines.
Uganda Airlines and Uganda Tourism Board, will also be working jointly to develop new tourism products such as especially those highlighting cultural diversity (religious, kingdoms, people), nature and sustainability/eco-friendly (gorilla, chimpanzee, bird sanctuary). We will also be working together to plan and organise familiarisation trips for travel agents, tour operators, press and travel bloggers etc., aimed at encouraging travellers to use Uganda airlines to travel to Uganda. This will also include partnership to plan and execute the Pearl of Africa Travel Expo (POATE), Uganda’s flagship tourism expo.
All these initiatives, over and above increasing awareness about brand Destination Uganda in several key African source markets, should also ultimately further lower the cost- both in time and money of travelling to Uganda- whether it is for business or leisure. It is indeed, a New World for Uganda Airlines, Uganda, Ugandans and all our visitors who will be Flying the Crane to The Pearl of Africa! There is indeed now more reasons to #TakeOnThePearl and #VisitUganda! For God and My Country.
The Writer is the Chief Executive Officer, Uganda Tourism Board (UTB)