Kampala. Shs500m has been invested in inviting 75 foreign tourism marketing agencies to sample Uganda’s attractions so as to sell the country as a possible tourist destination, the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) has revealed.
According to UTB marketing manager Edwin Muzahura, the companies, which have just completed a familiarisation tour of Uganda’s tourism destinations, are also participating in the inaugural Pearl of Africa Tourism exhibition, which opened on Monday at the Kampala Serena Hotel.
Notable among the countries in attendance are Ghana, Singapore, Belgium, Jordan, Italy, Zimbabwe, Palestine, Ecuador, USA, Columbia and Japan.
“This is one of the strategies we are using for countries such as Italy, USA and others that have never experienced our products because they have not been selling Uganda as a destination,” Mr Muzahura said.
He added that after the tour, the companies are expected to include Uganda on their selling list and foreign public relations firms will also be appointed to market Uganda as a destination.
Mr Muzahura added that 120 companies from Uganda and the different parts of the world have registered to participate in this year’s exhibition that will include business-to-business meetings, a boat cruise and exploring Kampala’s night life in Pyramid Casino, Kampala Casino and Guvnor Discotheque.
The exhibition will be crowned with award giving ceremony tomorrow (Friday), which will be graced by South African artiste Mafikizolo to entertain the guests.
Mr Andrew Seguya, the executive director Uganda Wild Life Authority (UWA), said this year’s exhibition is an offer Uganda is giving buyers who sell the travels to the destinations Uganda offers.
The exhibition will also inspire Ugandans to join the industry by creating partnerships with the foreign exhibitors so that they can understand what foreign partners look out for.
“Tourism brings in about Shs6b per year and it employs more than 350,000 people meaning it is among the leading foreign exchange earner, and as UWA, our role is to provide the ground for tourism to happen,” he said, adding that with wildlife, culture and scenery, the inaugural awards are meant to reward tourism players in the different categories.
speaking at the official expo opening dinner on Tuesday, UTB chief executive officer Stephen Asiimwe said previously, tourism and travel agencies have been marketing Uganda like they were operating kiosks but with the inaugural expo which is the first in Africa, things will change.
In her keynote address, Ms Patricia Zulita, the president Birdlife International, advised Uganda to stop looking at tourism from the visitor arrivals only but most importantly how to preserve the unique nature the country boasts of because it is very important for nature and biodiversity.
“Uganda is important for nature and biodiversity, the flocks of birds seen flying about are fascinating, the wonderful, lakes, rivers, grasslands and hills no wonder why Uganda is referred to as the Pearl of Africa and as you all know, Pearls are the most sustainable jewellery,” she said.
Some of Uganda’s tourist attractions are; Mghahinga National Park (Nature hike and Batwa trail), Uganda Wildlife Education Centre (Nature and Wildlife), Uganda Reptile Village Entebbe (Snake Park), Uganda Martyrs Shrines Namugongo, Lake Victoria, Lake Mburo National Park, Source of the Nile- the World’s Longest River, Bahai Temple -the only one in Africa, Rwenzori Mountains, Sipi Falls, Ngamba Chimpanzee Sanctuary, Queen Elizabeth national Park, Kidepo Valley National Park, Murchison Falls National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.