By David Mugabe in Berlin
Uganda was the fifth best exhibitor at the just concluded ITB Berlin tourism exhibition among 10 African countries.
The Uganda’s stall in Berlin measuring 120 square meters was the biggest ever in recent years. The number of walk-in visitors marched Kenya’s which occupied almost a similar space.
The elegant exhibition stall housed private tour operator who showcased artwork of the rare mountain gorillas, Uganda Waragi gin, artifacts, and images of games and a full time running video playing a documentary of the Ugandan tourism story.
Stephen Asiimwe, the chief executive officer, Uganda Tourism Board acknowledges that should the industry pull in one direction and marketing is funded, Uganda will even do better.
“Uganda will prosper in tourism, we just need to tweak a few things,” noted Asiimwe adding that the industry is everybody’s business.
Other countries in the top ten included Burundi and Rwanda.
At a dinner hosted by Ugandan ambassador Marcel Tibaleka, UTB board chairman James Tumusiime noted that as part of efforts to actualize the industry’s full potential, foreign missions need to be fully integrated into the game especially because the largest groups of high spenders are from Europe and America.
“Now that things are improving, we need to do more with our foreign missions,” noted Tumusiime recounting the “miserable state” he found the Italian embassy a few years ago.
Jessica Eriyo, East African Community (EAC) deputy secretary general praised the single visa initiative that was also jointly launched in Berlin but advised that it is time Uganda cashed in on her regional stabilizing roles.
“Uganda gives a lot of leadership in the region, we need to see more linkages and value,” said Eriyo.