Wednesday July 17 2013

New mobile app set to spur tourism

By Olive Eyotaru

A new tourism mobile application that aims to lure more tourists to Uganda has been introduced.

Built for smartphones, the Uganda Guide App—a brainchild of the Pearl Guide Uganda— provides a detailed guide on places and attractions of Uganda, as well as travel and amenity listings of service providers.

Ms Maria Mutagamba, the minister of Tourism, who launched the new app at Serena Hotel on Friday, described it as a revolution and a new level of marketing Uganda’s tourism.

“ICT is a powerful tool for participating in the global market and enhancing local development opportunities. This landmark development is going to usher in a new era for our local tourism promotion, making it easier for anybody around the world to look for information on Uganda,” Ms Mutagamba said.

Ms Mutagamba added that government has over the years faced challenges in marketing the country abroad and taking advantage of internet platforms such as a mobile application. She, however, cited challenges in marketing tourism both domestically and on the global front.

She cites Tanzania, which spends $10 million (about Shs26 billion), Kenya puts in $24 million (about Shs62 billion) while Rwanda and Burundi have also taken over Uganda’s expenditure in marketing.

“Finances have set us back in terms of marketing. The budget is still low compared to other countries in the East African region, which we need to change,” Ms Mutagamba noted.

Pearl Guide Uganda’s director, Philip Kalibwani, said the innovation is a step ahead in boosting the tourism sector, through which Uganda has been recognised by Lonelyplanet and National Geographic.

“Global trends have seen over 70 per cent of travel become mobile dependent with services such as bookings and flight check-ins being done on the smartphone. This makes it the ideal time to make Uganda a part of the global mobile revolution”, Mr Kalibwani added.

Dr Andrew Sseguya, the executive director of Uganda Wildlife Authority said the new application will boost Uganda’s efforts to attract more tourists.

oeyotaru@ug.nationmedia.com

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