How are the escalating fuel prices affecting the travel industry?

How Are The Escalating Fuel Prices Affecting The Travel Industry?

How are the escalating fuel prices affecting the travel industry?

As fragile as it is, the travel industry in Uganda is facing lots of adversaries and the main ones right now are the covid-19 pandemic and the escalating fuel prices. The pandemic crippled the industry but the escalating fuel prices are amputating it. 

The travel industry is now in a state where it’s crawling helplessly but with no hope of being rescued from its kryptonite. It is only those who know its significance and get the bread out of it trying to pick it up (tour operators and car rental companies) but they don’t have is the power to turn around its misfortunes because its foes, covid-19, and the escalating fuel prices are invisible and natural forces.

The tours and travel industry which is mainly characterized by guided wildlife safari tours and self drive safaris somehow tried to weather the storm of coronavirus and then the rising fuel prices plummeted it back into the crisis it’s facing at the moment

Hindsight by the start of 2022, the travelers within Uganda and overseas were willing to visit the country and explore its natural beauties after the invention of the covid-19 vaccines and the relaxation of the travel restrictions and fees. The stakeholders were starting to smile again as inquiries and bookings had begun to surge.

However, at the beginning of March, there comes the Russo-Ukrainian War. Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia tries to impose his authority on the sovereign state of Ukraine where he holds no office.

His counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine refuses to bow down to the Emperor of Eastern Europe. He goes against Putin’s orders and the Russian president retaliates by invading his neighbour.

The bully and insolent actions of Putin were not welcomed by most western countries who decided to slap sanctions on the glacier-filled country.

Mark you, Russia is one of the leading producers of petroleum products in the world and also its skies offer a short route to the middle east countries like the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia which have been major players in air transport industry.

The Arab countries own popular airlines such as the Fly Emirates, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways, and Fly Saudia which ferry travelers from Europe to the Middle East to connect to Africa (Uganda).

The closure of Russian skies led to the subsequent upsurge in the air ticket fares around the world henceforth the first blow to the travel industry of Uganda. Travelers claimed that it was too expensive and hard for them to access Uganda because the most convenient and cheapest route to Africa was closed.

As tour operators and car rentals in Uganda were mourning over the air ticket fares from Europe to the country, the lofty fuel prices came knocking on their doors to pile more misery. Other than the Russian-Ukrainian war, lots of mythical factors have been attributed to the rise in fuel prices.

One school of thought has that the increasing fuel prices are caused by the ongoing election period in Kenya. The Masai land acts as the main transit way of most of Uganda’s imports and exports since the pearl of Africa is a landlocked country. We all know the dark arts of the election times in Africa, businessmen tend to hoard merchandise, and also investments are impeded.

Recently, Rubis proprietor Jean Bergeron was deported by Kenya for economic sabotage. Rubis is one of the leading suppliers of petroleum products in Kenya and other African countries. Rubis was accused of hoarding fuel despite its shortages in the country and around the East African region.

The aforementioned despicable incidence validates the narrative that fuel prices are escalating due to the prevailing election time in Kenya.

The escalating fuel prices are affecting the travel industry in the way that fuel is one of the expenses included in the cost of the safari. The vehicles usually used for Uganda tours are 4×4 rentals and SUVs which consume a lot of fuel.

Therefore, the Uganda safari packages seem to be expensive for the clients and many have been turned off by the exorbitant quotation. The best the travelers are doing is postponing their travel to a later date or year and a postponed safari without any payment is more or less like an unconfirmed one.

We reached out to one stakeholder in the travel industry from Car Rental in Uganda but begged to remain anonymous to talk about the ongoing situation.

This is what he had to say,” we are now at crossroads as an industry, we don’t know the direction, we are taking now. The few inquiries coming, either postpone their travel or don’t get back to us after providing our proposed package to them”.

Fuel being the main fluid that runs most automobiles and the mechanics used in factories, its soaring rates have directly and indirectly affected the cost of production of other commodities such as foodstuffs, groceries, and other life-enhancing products. Thus having drastic inflation worldwide.

People are spending more on routine expenses and saving less yet a big number of them were left jobless by the Covid-19 pandemic. Many people have foregone traveling to cater to the basics because it is regarded as a luxury.

However, as days are unfolding, hope and light are being smelled. Last week, the ministry of Health loosened the Covid-19 restrictions on travelers. The ministry of Health stipulated that the compulsory Covid-19 PCR test was discarded for fully vaccinated travelers both entering and leaving Uganda. This is really a relief to the travel industry, one of the things that affected it was the costly covid-19 guidelines like PCR test and quarantine.

We also hope that a solution will be found to the Russo-Ukrainian war and escalating fuel prices so that the travel industry can blossom again.


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