Last year also saw Uganda host the Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly for the first time since the organisation was formed. Nsubuga notes that many delegates participated in excursions to the national parks using various tour operators.
“It was a great opportunity to showcase our natural heritage especially the mountain gorillas. Delegates from many countries visited the gorillas and these included Sweden, Norway, Portugal, Switzerland, Mexico, Australia, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Canada, Hungary, USA, Finland and Qatar,” she adds.
Uganda aggressively participated in two of Europe’s biggest travel fairs - ITB in Berlin and WTM in London. In Berlin, Uganda was voted third best exhibitor in the African region, which was a new achievement.
The chairman at Association of Uganda Tour Operators, Bonifence Byamukama, notes that this enabled them to plan as a sector to reap from these accolades.
“We are working with the minister and have a plan for 2013. We are going to exhibit in Berlin in March, we will be in Madrid in February for yet another exhibition and in Holland later in January,” Byamukama spells out a plan to exhibit Uganda’s tourism potential to the world in the first quarter of 2013.
He adds that the ministry has earmarked tour operators for training. Today there are about 130 tour operators registered under the Ministry of Tourism, a sharp rise from about 80 two years back.
Nsubuga reveals some of the ministries’ plans for 2013. “UWA will also be extremely aggressive in fighting poaching in the national parks especially of elephants. An Intelligence Unit that will be manned by 80 rangers will soon be set up, and these will be allocated to the different national parks. Their main job will be to gather useful intelligence that will help us in planning for security interventions,” the authority’s publicist discloses.
She adds that new tourism markets will be sourced. “Currently, most of our marketing is done in Europe. We will look at beginning to carry out marketing in Asia, Australia and America, plus, increasing domestic tourism will also be a major objective for 2013,” she further reveals.
Currently, most of the Ugandans who visit the national parks are students but UWA will now target the corporate world through tailor-made tour packages for government agencies, international organisations and non-governmental organisations.