THE new tourism season that was launched in June this year is unfolding in style as major airlines restart flights to and from Tanzania, bringing in a substantial number of tourists.
Of latest, has been the Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM) that landed at the Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA) with more than 177 tourists who are here to enjoy the country’s abundant tourist attractions.
The KLM plane was graced by a water cannon salute as it was the first time to land at KIA after almost four- month suspension due to Covid-19 pandemic and the Kilimanjaro Regional Commissioner (RC), Ms Anna Mghwira represented the government at the momentous event on Tuesday night.
Acting Managing Director of the Kilimanjaro Airports Development Company (KADC), Ms Christina Mwakatobe and other senior government officials were also present to witness the Boeing 777 landing, bringing in tourists and picking other passengers proceeding to different destinations.
The KLM was not the first airline to land at KIA, as in June Ethiopian Airlines jetted with a number of tourists.
Other airlines are Crystal Cruises, Gulfstream from Croatia, Qatar Airways – Dreamliner, A7-BCG, RwandAir, while more others have been landing at the Julius Nyerere International Airport (JNIA) in Dar es Salaam.
Gracing the coming back of KLM Airways, RC Mghwira said she was proud that the Tanzania government under President John Magufuli has won back the trust of foreigners in particular tourists, who had stayed away since March, this year due to outbreak of the Coronavirus that has killed thousands of people worldwide.
“We are back to normalcy, we have won back a huge number of tourists because of strategies that have been devised by President Magufuli and the government in dealing with Covid-19, pushing away fear for us but also helping others observe the same, with needed precautions to ensure that life goes back to normal.
“The flow of tourists back into the country means a lot to us. The world understands that we took the right initiatives in tackling the malady and now everything is going on well ... we have shown the world the way to go.
“We have received more than 177 tourists today (Tuesday), who are going for sightseeing after the lockdown stint in their countries, it is a history that we have made, Tanzania is exemplary and unforgettable in tourism and hospitality industry, we welcome more tourists in the country,” said Ms Mghwira contentedly.
Other airlines that have resumed their flights to and from Tanzania are Flydubai, Emirates, and Turkish Airlines. On June 1, Ethiopian Airlines landed at the Kilimanjaro Airport in Arusha making it the first regional flight in Tanzania since the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Akbar Al Baker, Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer (CEO) said that resumption of flight to Dar es Salaam means a lot to Qatar.
“Our wide network of flights during these challenging times has ensured we have kept up to date with the latest in international airport procedures and implemented the most advanced safety and hygiene measures on board our aircraft and in Hamad International Airport,” Mr Al Baker was quoted as saying.
RwandAir resumed its flight to and out of Tanzania this week, five months after its government put in place mandatory lockdown and stringent measures in travel and transportation.
Bombardier Q4109 touched down at KIA with several passengers for different activities in the country.
RwandAir Resident Manager, Mr Jimmy Mitali, said the flights have been allowed after Rwandan Government ascertained itself that Tanzania is safe after several measures it took during the pandemic.
KADCO's Ms Mwakatobe said resumption of the flights is so important in the aviation and tourism sector. She said that receiving 177 tourists in one flight proved that Netherlands and French governments are satisfied with standards that Tanzania is maintaining.
Ms Mwakatobe said what the Tanzanian government has accomplished in ensuring safety of tourists is huge and that KADCO will maintain the standards set and keep receiving more flights with tourists.
“We received Ethiopian Airlines and later on we had Qatar Airways meaning that the situation is back to normal and we are once again in business,” said Ms Mwakatobe, adding that the company and the country generally are well prepared to receive more airlines and tourists with precautionary measures in place.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism issued Standards Operating Procedures (SOPs) with Minister Hamisi Kigwangallah presenting detailed protocols regarding control measures and procedures towards preventing the spread of Covid-19. The protocols have since been adopted and customised by all tourism entities.
Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB) Senior Official, Mr Francis Malugu noted that resumption of flights to Tanzania is a milestone the tourism sector.
He was optimistic that many tourists will make it to the country as already there are many who have been good ambassador of Tanzania out there.
Huge numbers flocking in just in the third month since launching of this year's tourism season was a positive sign to the sub sector and the economy in general.