MONDAY March 27, 2023
By Adam Ihucha
Tranquility News Correspondent, Tanzania
The management of a Tanzania’s second largest airport after Julius Nyerere International Airport (JNIA) is about to expand the aerodrome’s parking lot to build its capacity to handle the ever-growing vehicle traffic.
Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA) currently can accommodate barely 85 vehicles. The $1.2 million worth expansion project is expected to create over 100 additional parking spaces.
KIA is facing a shortage of parking spaces, particularly during the peak of tourism season, when users triple, owing to the upsurge of tourists’ traffic.
Drivers, mostly of tourists’ vans, spend a considerable time at the parking lot to find the right place to park their vehicles, a spokesperson of the airport admitted.
Ms Christine Mwakatobe, the Managing Director of the Kilimanjaro Airports Development Company (KADCO), the government’s executive arm entrusted with running KIA, added in an interview with Tranquility News:
“With only 85 parking spaces, the struggle has been very real, at times we receive 300 tourists’ vehicles at ago, you can imagine how worse it could be.”
KADCO already has commissioned Rocktronic Limited to expand the parking lot of the strategic gateway to close to 80 per cent of 1.5 million tourists visiting Tanzania, who fetch the resource-rich country $2.6 billion annually.
Besides tourists, a large chunk of horticultural crops destined for overseas markets is among cargoes airlifted from KIA, which straddles in the middle of the Tanzania’s northern tourism circuit.
Going by the expansion project’s documents, whose copies Tranquility News has seen, the scope of the work involves installing state-of-the-art floodlights, drainage system, resurfacing, rehabilitation and extending the existing car parking area.
Ms Mwakatobe said with environmental considerations at the heart of the project, the expansion of the KIA car parking would raise the profile of the airport, as it would create sufficient room for both clients and staff’s vehicles to maneuver.
“Economically, this project will create more than 100 temporary jobs for residents surrounding the airport during the implementation phase,” the KADCO Managing Director explained.
The Chief Executive Officer with Tanzania Association of Tour Operators, Mr Sirili Akko, showered the KADCO management with praises for its prompt action of expanding the airport’s parking lot, saying it would offer holidaymakers a hassle-free trip right from the arrival lounge.
The number of tourists arrivals continues rising each day, thanks to relaxed travelers restrictions globally coupled with the impact of the Royal Tour film featuring the Tanzania President, Dr Samia Suluhu Hassan, as the key guide, for overwhelming the parking infrastructure.
Dr Samia showcases Tanzania’s rich cultural, wildlife heritage and an array of investment opportunities through her leadership eye in the maiden film produced by Peter Greenberg and launched in New York on April 18, 2022.
Whereas official data indicates international airlines operating from KIA have grown to 13, up from 11, in 2020; cargo traffic also sprouted by leaps and bounds, as KIA posted a 26-per cent upsurge in cargo volumes between 2019 and 2021.
Indeed, the Tanzania: Royal Tour film’s content, its strategic premiere in the US market and timing have started paying dividends in terms of commanding significant tourists traffic.
The Bank of Tanzania’s latest figures show that in the year ending January 2023, travel receipts almost doubled to $2.641 billion, as tourist arrivals rose to 1,500,648 in 2022 from 938,017 during the preceding year.
This means Tanzania is closer to full recovery as the pre-pandemic number of tourist arrivals stood at 1,527,230 in 2019.
What makes the “Royal Tour” film series different from most tourism-related programing is that, aside from presenting an informal and personal side of a leader, it presents a 360-degree view of a home of number one Safari destination in the world, housing four of the most coveted adventure hotspots on earth, namely Serengeti, Mount Kilimanjaro, Zanzibar, and Ngorongoro Crater, compounded by kind hearted people of TanzaniaΩ