Entebbe left out of East Africa’s tourist arrivals boom this year

While East African airports are receiving more international visitors this year, Entebbe is missing out on the boom.

Between January and August, bookings transactions for people travelling to East Africa grew by 11.2% compared to the same period last year, according to ForwardKeys, a company that predicts future travel patterns by analysing flight reservation data.

Kenya had the highest growth in bookings of 14.9%, Tanzania’s are up 10.6%, Ethiopia up 9.6%, and Mauritius 11.6%. Africa as a whole registered a growth of 5.6% in international arrivals.

North African destinations saw little growth compared to East Africa and, in some cases, declines due to political instability and terror attacks. Visitors to Tunisia rose 2.2% while those to Morocco grew by 0.7%; Egypt and Algeria saw falls of 0.2% and 4.0% respectively.

Uganda’s only international airport, Entebbe, does not feature in the analysis of arrival numbers.

It however has the second largest airport capacity in the region after Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. Even then, it’s 1% growth in international capacity was behind Kilimanjaro (20%), Zanzibar (12%), Kigali (4%), and Nairobi (2%). Only Tanzania had a lower capacity growth rate of -2%.

Entebbe is currently undergoing a Chinese-funded expansion that includes an extension of the passenger terminal, construction of a new cargo centre, and refurbishment of the airport’s two runways.

International bookings to East Africa up to the end of 2016 are up 17.3% compared to where they were at the same time last year, according to the analysis.

Turning to source countries, India has the highest increase, 34%, in the number of people travelling to East Africa. Germany and the USA are up 21%, the Netherlands 16.6%, France 16.1%, the UK 13.2%, while arrivals from South Africa are up 9.4%.

South Africa has the highest share of total visitors to the continent, with 13%. It is followed by Egypt (9%), Morocco (8%), Mauritius (5%), Kenya (4%), Algeria (4%), Tunisia (4%), Tanzania (3%), Ethiopia (3%) and Nigeria (2%).