Tours & Travel

Tour operators count losses as tourists cancel trips to Uganda over frustration at Entebbe International Airport

Chaotic scenes at Entebbe International Airport as passengers complain of unnecessary delays (PHOTO /Courtesy).

Chaotic scenes at Entebbe International Airport as passengers complain of unnecessary delays (PHOTO /Courtesy).

KAMPALA — A clumsy decision by Uganda to direct arriving air passengers to take new Covid-19 tests before leaving the airport continues to frustrate the trust in certificates issued by authorised laboratories in the region, and which has seen seamless movement across borders.

President Museveni last week launched the Entebbe International Airport Covid-19 Laboratories to screen arriving passengers by taking fresh samples even when they are fully vaccinated.

But while Kampala says this is meant to ensure no new variants make their way into the country, it effectively means a rejection of test results issued by corresponding laboratories across Africa from where passengers come from.

The highly contraversial directive requires all passengers to go through a mandatory testing regardless of whether they are vaccinated or they carry valid negative PCR laboratory results.

Those arriving at the airport though are still required to present the negative PCR results before heading to the testing booths.

Since its sanctioning— complaints have been emerging as passengers have to wait for their results for more than four hours.

Frustrated arrivals are taking to social media to question the reasons for testing even those with valid negative PCR certificates.

Entebbe International Airport

Businessman Isa Kato says tourists have started canceling their trips to Uganda over frustration at Entebbe International Airport COVID-19

Tourism investors count losses

Mr. Isa Kato a businessman, entrepreneur and top stakeholder in tourism sector says travelers with valid negative PCR tests and are vaccinated fully shouldn’t be subjected to fresh tests.

Speaking to this website, Kato suggested that Uganda needs to benchmark what other countries are doing to avoid frustrating travellers.

“Travellers who are fully vaccinated and are holding a negative PCR test result should not be tested again,” he said, noting that “maybe the focus should be on travellers from ‘Red List’ countries but ‘ also let them be tested using Rapid Testing so that in 15 minutes people are going away from the airport“.

Kato revealed that several tourists have canceled their trips to Uganda citing frustration at Entebbe International Airport.

“Tourists keep canceling and advising others not travel to Uganda citing confusion and gross frustration at Entebbe International Airport”.

Previously, Uganda only authorised compulsory testing for people arriving from 10 “high risk” countries, including India but Health Minister, Jane Ruth Aceng, says that the coronavirus tests would continue but results dispatched in under two hours via email or instant messaging apps.

Uganda is the only country in the region still on strict lockdown measures.

The measures include the closure of schools, bars and clubs and a curfew that runs from 7pm to 5am.

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