• Thursday, July 18, 2024
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Boost for intra-African travel as Nigeria-Uganda tourism connection takes off

Boost for intra-African travel as Nigeria-Uganda tourism connection takes off

With the inaugural flight of Uganda Airlines on October 19, 2023, the long anticipated Nigeria-Uganda tourism connection has taken off to the excitement of travelers who want to visit Uganda on holiday or connect the world from the East African country.

The A330-800 aircraft, which took off from Entebbe International Airport in Uganda, with passengers and a government delegation landed at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos, amid a ceremonial water cannon salute from the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), fire fighting and rescue services.

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The inaugural flight marked the commencement of three-weekly flights to Lagos, with the Nigerian government further granting approval for operations to Abuja and Kano airports in line with the Single Africa Air Transport Market (SAATM).

The development is well-received by the Nigerian travelers who are clamoring for cheaper airfares, shorter flight time to East Africa and ease connectivity for Europe, Middle East and Asia from West and East Africa. Excited at the seamless connectivity milestone, Jenifer Bamuturaki, chief executive officer, Uganda Airlines, noted that the journey to more connected Africa has begun with about a three and half hours flight from Entebbe to Lagos.

According to her, with shorter flight time, Nigerian passengers connecting to Mumbai or Dubai do not have to go 10 hours across directions, as Entebbe offers it in four and a half hours.

However, the inaugural flight is most welcomed by the Uganda Tourism Board, the country’s agency responsible for marketing and promoting the country, which is nicknamed ‘The Pearl of Africa’, especially her tourism to the world.

Speaking in Lagos, after the inaugural flight Samora Semakula, Quality Assurance Manager, Uganda Tourism Board (UTB), noted that the importance of a national air carrier cannot be over-emphasized in destination marketing as it ensures seamless connectivity and inflow of tourists, business travellers and corporate organisations to the country to explore its tourism offerings.

Semakula, who spoke to the Nigerian travel media at Marriott Hotel Ikeja, Lagos, noted that Nigeria is one of the five source markets for Uganda Tourism Board and the connecting flight between the two countries would ensure smoother and more robust tourism, cultural and business exchanges between the two countries.

According to him, with three and half hours flight from Entebbe to Lagos, and cheaper airfare, Uganda is a better offer for the Nigerian holidaymakers, pilgrims and business travelers and even those seeking to connect the world through East Africa.

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On visa, he noted that Ugandan visa regime has always been friendly, but with the flight and more passengers set to flock the country, Uganda has put in place a smoother visa processing system, which offers visas within 24 hours, amid efficient online processing for visitors on-the-go.

With all these going for Uganda, Semakula welcomes Nigerians to The Pearl of Africa, while highlighting the numerous tourism offerings and potential, which abound in the country.

These offerings are top among the reasons to visit Uganda, according to the UTB executive.

“Uganda is the Pearl of Africa because of its diverse natural endowment and beauty. Some of Africa’s most sought-after species live in Uganda like the Big Five, we have the highest number of the world’s gorillas and the chimpanzees are there too.

“Uganda is also the source of River Nile, the longest river in the world, and home to Lake Victoria, the largest freshwater lake in Africa.

It has a diverse culture across 56 tribes, and there is harmony among the people, while the country is peaceful, politically and economically stable. You need to visit Uganda,” he explained.

The country also offers exciting nightlife to Nigerians, while the Namugongo Shrine will appeal to those on pilgrimage, especially the Catholic and Anglican faithful from Nigeria, who need to hear and connect to the Uganda Martyrs story.

The country also boasts of Rwenzori Mountain, which is over 5,000 feet above sea level. For wildlife, Semakula said that Nigerian wildlife lovers will be enthralled by the many national parks and their rare species.

Murchison Falls where River Nile passes through, Queen Elizabeth National Park, where you’ll find the tree climbing lions, Kidepo Valley National Park, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park where we have the gorillas, Lake Mburo National Park, a bird species, haven, Semliki National Park, Mga-Hinga Gorilla National Park and many others.

Read also: World Gorilla Day: Protecting species can boost tourism, says Wild Africa Fund

Of course, Semakula assured that the UTB is working with its Nigerian travel trade partners, tour operators, travel agencies, travel media and now the Uganda Airlines to make the Nigerian-Uganda connection seamless.