[HR][/HR]Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam) Finnigan Wa Simbeye 20 December 2011[HR][/HR] AN ambitious project to expand and modernise Kilimanjaro International Airport by 2015 that will allow more world class airlines to ply to and fro with tourist arrivals will take off mid next January thanks to a grant from Netherlands government. The 57.5bn/- will also assist to almost double horticulture exports much of which is shipped abroad through Jomo Kenyatta International Airport much as it will do the same to the number of tourist arrivals who will increase from 650,000 currently to more than one million per annum. Kilimanjaro Airport Development Company (KADCO), Chief Executive Officer, Marco van de Kreeke said design work for the project is due to start next January with actual construction work starting in 2013/14 season. The Tanzanian and Dutch governments signed an agreement for the grant on November 23 this year. Mr van de Kreeke said in a statement last weekend that during the renovation phase, the runway, taxiways and aprons of the airport will be overhauled and resurfaced. "A new taxiway will be built to increase the capacity of the airport and the terminal building will be upgraded and expanded to accommodate the growing flow of tourists into Northern Tanzania." Annually, over 650,000 passengers pass through KIA which is only second to Dar es Salaam's Julius Nyerere International Airport in size and number of passengers. "This is a big step for KADCO and Kilimanjaro airport. The rehabilitation of KIA has been an important goal since the airport's privatization," van de Kreeke pointed out. Dubbed gateway to the Northern tourist circuit and world heritage sites, KIA was the first airport to be privatised in the country in early 2000. The new financial boost is likely to develop further the Northern Tourism Circuit which has been receiving thousands of visitors every year. The number of tourists who toured different parts of country in 2009 went down to 714,367 from 770,376 in 2008, which represents a 7.3 per cent decline. Proceeds dropped by 3.0 per cent from 1,198.76 million US dollars in 2008 to 1,162.80 million US dollars in 2009. To mitigate the situation, the Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB) began to intensify its efforts to revamp domestic tourism, and through a promotional campaign, the number of local tourists grew by 19.3 per cent in 2009 to reach 639,749. TTB is also targeting newly emerging tourist markets such as China, India, Japan and Eastern Europe countries. It will also support the horticulture industry which has been depending heavily on the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport for exports. The Tanzania Horticulture Association (TAHA) would be also excited by the news to give KIA a facelift. "Most of our members export their produce through Jomo Kenyatta International Airport due to limited capacity at KIA and extra costs," said TAHA in a report published last year while opposing an 18 per cent value added tax imposition. While the country's horticultural industry expands rapidly at a rate of between 8 to 10 per cent per annum, foreign currency earnings have jumped from 1.4 million US dollars to 140 million US dollars (approx. 2.8bn/- to 210bn/-) between 2002 and 2009. Foreign direct investment has also increased with new flows growing at 61 per cent per annum and 23 per cent expansion investments on existing farms. Thus expansion and modernisation of KIA to include key infrastructure such as cold rooms, thermal utility trucks and other handling equipments, will encourage TAHA members use the airport regularly and shun JNIA. The Dutch grant incorporates much of the private operator's KIA development vision which van de Kreeke pointed out in his statement. "Traffic numbers at KIA have grown from 200,000 in 2002 to an expected 650,000 passengers in 2011 and KADCO management is currently negotiating with a number of international flag carriers to open new routes to KIA," the CEO revealed. "The airport management is very confident this development strategy will continue to bear fruit and further stimulate growth. The airport needs to keep up with growth and international standards. With this grant from the Dutch Government, KIA will get the necessary expansion and facelift to accommodate international traffic in the next decade," he said. "The design phase, to start in January 2012, is estimated to cost around 920m/- (EUR 400.000) and will be 100% financed by the grant. The design phase is expected to take 6 -8 months," van de Kreeke noted. While the Dutch support will cover 50 per cent of the costs, KADCO will provide the balance from its own revenue sources.