In a recent announcement, the Minister for Works and Transport, Gen Edward Katumba Wamala, shared the government’s intention to enhance three airports in Kasese, Arua, and Kidepo, with the aim of promoting tourism within the country. These upgrades will occur incrementally as funds become available.
Gen Katumba emphasized that, while the government would ideally like to improve all 14 national airports, budgetary constraints necessitate prioritizing these three to cater to high-end tourists. He noted that such tourists prefer the convenience of flying directly to their destinations, rather than embarking on lengthy drives after arrival.
The Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA) will collaborate with the Ministry of Works and Transport to determine the essential priorities for these airport upgrades. Additionally, these improvements are anticipated to stimulate tourism not only within Uganda but also across the East African region.
Gen Katumba highlighted a novel approach wherein tourists visiting nearby destinations, such as Kenya’s Masai Mara, could fly directly to Kidepo if an immigration point were established there. This streamlined travel experience could potentially attract more tourists to the region.
Despite ongoing challenges, Gen Katumba expressed optimism about the growth of the airline industry and the forthcoming improvements in airport infrastructure.
Gen Katumba shared these plans during the inauguration of the new UCAA board members, which consists of eight members, including retired former Deputy Chief Justice Steven Kavuma as the chairperson. Justice Kavuma, serving his second term, praised the authority’s progress in implementing international safety standards and upgrading aeronautical infrastructure.
He also highlighted a positive trend in passenger traffic at Entebbe airport, indicating that Uganda might recover from the Covid-19 pandemic’s impact on the aviation industry earlier than previously projected.
Justice Kavuma pledged the board’s support for initiatives aimed at fostering the growth of Uganda’s aviation industry. Gen Katumba urged the new board to implement the recommendations from the recent UCAA performance audit report, set to be released soon.