UTB moves to boost tourism

Left to right: Mr Herbert Byaruhanga, the chairperson Uganda Birders Association, Mr Stephen Asiimwe, the chief executive officer UTB and Ms Judith Mirembe, the chairperson Women Birders Club, address journalists in Kampala on Saturday. PHOTO BY COLLEB MUGUME

What you need to know:

The advantage. Uganda has more than 50 per cent of the entire Africa bird species and over 10 per cent of the world bird species

Uganda Tourism Board [UTB] has launched a tourism campaign to promote birding in the country.
The campaign dubbed: ‘African Birding Expo’ is one of its kind on the African continent, targeting more than 100,000 foreign birders in the country.

While launching the campaign at the weekend in Kampala, UTB executive director, Mr Stephen Asiimwe, said since tourism has emerged as the number one foreign exchange earner in the world, birding is a very big strategic product for the country.

Mr Asiimwe explains that tourism sector is contributing about 10 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product and 23 per cent of exports. According to the annual Tourism Sector Performance Report, 2016, the country earned Shs7.3 billion from tourism in 2015.

He, however, notes that much as Uganda still has good tourism products, they are still in their early stages, one of them being birding.

Mr Asiimwe notes that Uganda has more than 50 per cent of the entire Africa bird species and over 10 per cent of the world bird species but the country’s earning from them still remains low.
“We have found that Uganda has more birds than entire North America and Europe combined in terms of variety. However, their economies are earning billions of dollars from the few birds that they have while us with many birds are not earning very much,” Mr Asiimwe said.

It is against this background that UTB and birding associations agreed to start a first ever Bird Expo in the country and it has come to pass.

Mr Asiimwe notes that if the country gets 100,000 foreign birders and each spends $7,000 (Shs24.3m) per trip, Uganda could earn $700m (Shs2.4b), a figure twice the money it earns from exporting coffee.
He also said that they are not only encouraging birders among foreigner but Ugandans should also develop the culture of promoting their own by becoming birders.

Uganda is one of the world’s richest countries in bird diversity.
During the 7th Annual Tourism Sector Review Conference recently, Tourism minister Ephraim Kamuntu, said the sector has recorded a fair performance but can do more particularly by developing the domestic market in Uganda.

“We want Ugandans to get to know, tour their own country and be directly involved in tourism promotion. This is because in times of trouble, domestic tourism is the most reliable,” he said.

Domestic tourism
He also said government will develop the domestic tourism by promoting events, festivals, day trips, and weekend breaks.

Run dates
The expo, running from November 18 to 21 at Entebbe Botanical Gardens, will attract more than 100 exhibitors from within and outside Africa.

The expo is funded by the World Bank at a cost of Shs500 million.

What it is. Birding or birdwatching, is a form of wildlife action in which the observation of birds is a recreational activity. It can be done with the naked eye, through a visual enhancement device such as binoculars and telescopes or by listening to birds’ sounds.According to Nature Uganda, 2010, Uganda is a home of about 1,067 species of bird representing 10.6 per cent of the world’s bird population and 50 per cent of Africa’s species and in size.