Tourism: Let’s involve private sector in drive

President Yoweri Museveni was at Kololo Independence ground to launch the campaign dubbed ‘Explore Uganda’.

What you need to know:

The issue:

Tourism

Our view: 

As a regulator, the work of UTB is only seen with private sector players. Presently, it’s common to find a tour and travel company on every building in Kampala

Uganda Tourism Board (UTB), on Friday, launched a new campaign to re-energize the promotion of this country as a preferred destination.
President Yoweri Museveni was at Kololo Independence ground to launch the campaign dubbed ‘Explore Uganda’.
It is not the first such drive. We have had – Taking on the Pearl and Visit Uganda – among others.
To emphasise that this was different, UTB chief executive officer Lilian Ajarova explained that exploration is bigger than visiting.

An example of that is what she has been doing on social media.
Recently, Ms Ajarova detailed her expedition to Magherita, the highest peak of Mt Rwenzori.
It is an enthralling journey that also caught the attention of President Museveni. In all, the unveiling of the new effort to attract tourists was well-scripted.
From showcasing tradition to food, music and culture, the event held in Kololo was clearly a definition of Uganda in summary. 
 
This initiative was also extremely important considering that tourism has been one of the hardest hit sectors during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The number of foreign tourists has taken a nosedive yet the practice in itself was largely alien to locals.
If you use social media, however, you must have noticed a rise in the number of locals taking trips across the country in trips such as Vumbula among others.
As a regulator, the work of UTB is only seen with private sector players. Presently, it’s common to find a tour and travel company on every building in Kampala.

That only points to one thing – tourism is a viable business that many are willing to invest their capital in.
It can be lucrative, beyond agriculture, mining and oil combined. Like many sectors, there is a disconnect between government policy and private players’ needs.
That’s why in the lead up to the event in Kololo, Uganda Tourism Association (UTA), the body that brings private sector players together, released a statement promising to boycott the event.
You could never have made judgment on whether their absence was felt as it was a sumptuous ceremony. The pomp covered all the cracks.

UTA’s biggest bone of contention was the fact that they have been ignored by the government throughout the pandemic and have not received a stimulus package.
Of course, their grievances are deeper. UTB should know that they can only fulfill their mandate if they coordinate with UTA routinely.
Launching a campaign is about delivering a consistent message but sustaining it entirely depends on the service providers being on board.    

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