What you need to know:
According to Uganda’s Consul General to Mombasa, Mr Paul Mukumbya, the engagements are aimed at creating partnerships between key players in the tourism sectors of Uganda and the Kenya Coast
By David Muwonge
Tourism stakeholders drawn from Uganda and Kenya have been meeting in the Kenyan port city of Mombasa for three days to find ways they can maximize the tourism potential between the two neighbouring countries.
According to Uganda’s Consul General to Mombasa, Mr Paul Mukumbya, the engagements are aimed at creating partnerships between key players in the tourism sectors of Uganda and the Kenya Coast.
“It is my sincere hope that by the end of the conference and the fam trip, a strong foundation for cooperation will have been built between key tourism players in Uganda and the Kenya Coast. This conference has been organized by the Consulate General of the Republic of Uganda in Mombasa, in partnership with key tourism players in Uganda and the Kenya Coast: the Uganda Tourism Association, the Private Sector Foundation Uganda, the Uganda Tourism Board, Uganda Airlines, the Kenya Coast Tourist Association, the Counties of Mombasa, Kilifi and Kwale and many other partners and well-wishers,” Mukumbya remarked at the opening of the event dubbed ‘Uganda-Kenya Coast Tourism Conference and Exhibition’.
Uganda’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that among other things, the three-day conference sought to explore was the opportunities in joint marketing of the tourism products. “And equip the key tourism players from with first-hand experience of the key tourism attractions. The latter is vital in enabling participants on how to better market these attractions,” added the testament from the ministry at the beginning of the conference on Thursday.
Promotion and popularization of the Entebbe-Mombasa route plied by Uganda Airlines also formed part of the talking points at the event organized under the theme “Strengthening Networks, Synergies, and Diversity to maximize the tourism potential between Uganda and the Kenya Coastal Region” commenced today at Pride Inn Paradise Hotel.
It is worth noting that Kenya’s coastal region is home to various attractions that include Fort Jesus that was built between 1593 and 1596 on the orders of Portuguese King Felipe II, unique safaris, beaches and historical heritage making the two nations ideal for travel.
Other facilities within the coastal belt, Kwale County to be particular; include Baobab Beach Resort, The Residence at Leopard, Diani Reef Beach Resort and Spa, Kinondo Kwetu which scooped various awards at the 2022 World Travel Awards which were held in Nairobi.
Kwale Governor, Fatuma Mohamed Achani said efforts are underway to develop other attraction sites such as Majimoto, Wasini Boardwalk, Shimoni and Fikirini caves and First World War Memorial graves at Mkongani among others.
Kenya Coastal Tourism Association
According to the Chairman of Kenya Coast Tourism Association (KCTA) Victor. M. Shitakha, the event was historic because it is the first-ever regional tourism conference and business to business engagement to be held at the Kenya Coast.
“As Kenya Coast, Uganda is one of our major Africa trading partners and tourism source market. Both the two nations enjoy mutual and peaceful coexistence that supports growth of the regional economy. It is also important to note that both Kenya Coast and Uganda offer unique memorable and complimenting experiences, I therefore call upon the regional tourism stakeholders to seize the opportunity and work together in enhancing the regional tourism trade and investment,” Shitakha explained.
According to him, it offers an opportunity for a structured discourse towards developing Kenya Coast tourism and Uganda circuit where foreign tourists to the region can visit both the two nations under one circuit while also accelerating cross border tourism.
Suffice to note is that the conference is of key significance to Uganda, which for a decade has seen a spike in tourists’ numbers, according to government.
A concept note shows that tourism arrivals in Uganda, as of 2021 stood at 512,945. Out of these, 326,387 were from Kenya, which translates to 63.63% of all arrivals in Uganda.
Between January and March 2022, close to 95,000 Kenyans visited Uganda for various reasons. There is increasing demand for Kenyan visitors to Uganda due to various events that have taken place in Kampala such as Golf and Rugby tournaments, festivals, music concerts among others.
At the same event Hon. John Mulimba, the Minister of State for Regional Cooperation Foreign Affairs noted that, "the importance of tourism in our economies cannot be underestimated. It is insurmountable."
According to analysts, these numbers can even spike once the tourism players in the two countries join hands.