Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) has said it will bank on Africa as a way of growing the country’s tourism numbers.
Speaking ahead of the Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo due Febraury 4-6, Ms Lilly Ajarova, the UTB chief executive officer, said Africa is one of the fastest growing tourism markets, after Asia and the Pacific thus it is the right time for Uganda to position itself and tap from the potential within the continent.
Outbound traffic from Africa in 2018, she said, reached 42 million, which according to World Trade Organisation, four out of every five tourists travelled within their regions.
This she said, means that more Africans were likely to travel have travelled within the continent.
“African travelers travel to see friends and family or do business. Uganda is already doing business with Africa, so we need to tap this by telling Africa what we have,” Ms Ajarova said.
Tourism experts have, over the years urged government to tap into the potential of local tourism before seeking numbers from other markets. However, there has been less investment towards such initiatives with the country mainly relying on Europe, the America and Asia to grow its tourism numbers.
Ms Ajarova said it is high time Uganda utilises the benefits of regional and continental integration to boost not only trade but also tourism.
“Integration such as East African Community Tourist Visa and the upcoming the African Continental Free Trade Area will open up more African borders and skies,” she said, noting that the continent was rising economically and will by 2030 have close to a billion people.
The Africa Development Bank estimates that by 2030, five of the largest consumer markets will be in African namely, Nigeria, Egypt, South Africa, Morocco and Algeria. It also estimates that there will be 56 million middle-class households with disposable incomes of nearly $680b.
About the tourism expo
According to Ms Ajarova, the Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo seeks to create an opportunity for domestic tourism players, to connect and showcase their potential to the rest of the world.