Uganda Tourism Board has recruited three Public Relations firms to represent the country in source markets.
This is a UTB strategy hatched to increase the country’s tourists arrivals, a plan if succeeds will not only generate more revenues for the country but also create more employment opportunities.
The firms to represent Uganda are PHG Consulting for the North America market, Kamageo for the United Kingdom (UK) and Ireland; and KPRN for the German speaking Europe.
UTB Chief Executive Officer, Mr Stephen Asiimwe said, “For the first time ever, Uganda will now have public relations and marketing representatives in our three major source markets of North America, Ireland & UK, and the German speaking Europe”.
This program is being funded under the World Bank’s Competiveness and Enterprises Development Project (CEDP).
Asiimwe said that the agencies are expected to raise the profile of Uganda as a preferred destination, increase inbound numbers to Uganda and promote investment opportunities in Uganda's tourism sector.
Once this campaign sets off, it will help clear the negative perception people know about Uganda for Ebola or Idi Amin.
Currently tourist arrivals into Uganda have reached 1.3 million as of 2014 records and this is up from 600,000 the country received in 2006.
These numbers have too seen the country’s earnings from tourists arrivals go up to $1.4 billion (Shs4.9 billion) in 2014 down from $600,000 (Shs1.2 billion) earned in 2006.
Mr Edris Kisambira Managing Director Africa Uzuri Safaris –a tour operating company reacting to this news said: “First of all it is some of the best news the struggling sector has received in a long while”.
Kisambira said that this achievement means more prospects for the tour operators.
“More tourist arrivals mean that new jobs will be created while those jobs that have been lost over the last two years because of low arrivals will be redeemed,” Kisambira added.
Trek East Africa Safaris Mr Geoffrey Baluku in an interview about this development said: “This is a positive move particularly for the fact that the selected firms are from those very continents/ countries, they understand their target markets better and will be able to promote the hidden treasures of Uganda. I expect the PR firms to start projecting Uganda as top notch tourism and investment hub I also expect the international firm’s mandate to include those engaging foreign governments in activities that promote Uganda as a preferred destination. I am of the school of thought who believes that I also hope the PR firms help in undercutting foreign critics who are always portraying Uganda negatively.”
Baluku advised that UTB should ensure that these firms include tour operators, travel agents, airlines, and transportation providers in their programs if they are to better understand Uganda's tourism offer and how they can sell it to their clientele.
“However that said: “We also need to put our house in order. PR and Marketing firms can only market and promote what we have, we shouldn’t expect them to re-create imaginary things,” He added.
He said to achieve this Uganda needs to zero down on a brand that can best sell the country so that even the PR firms can know what message to put out.