Over 117 million Chinese travel to foreign destinations each year.
PIC: A grainy image of the Chinese Travel Trade team posing with UTB staff shortly after arrival at Entebbe Airport. (Credit: David Gyabi)
TOURISM & PLACES
A ten-man team from some of China's most authoritative travel agencies set foot in Uganda ahead of a 10-day familiarization trip around its top tourism attractions.
The trip is among the initiatives Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) has purposed to better Uganda's efforts to tap China's travel market.
According to China Tourism Research Institute, over 117 million Chinese travel to foreign destinations each year, spending over $104.5 billion.
Of these tourists, over 10% travel to Africa.
That might sound small, but it is over 10 million tourists. The problem here is that less than 500,000 of these come to Uganda as it is still in the shadows of countries that have aggressively marketed themselves to China in the past. Such nations include Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa.
UTB senior marketing officer Safie Ali observes that their efforts to penetrate this market in the past were frustrated by limited funding.
But now that things are starting to fall in place following government’s increased financial support to the sector, they have embarked on a spirited drive to woo Chinese to Uganda.
“The bottom-line of the endeavor is to create additional jobs for Ugandans as tourism has become one of the major players in its international commerce, says Ali.
It also comes across as one of the main income sources for many households.
Domestic tourists checking out a statue at Kisiizi, one of the many cultural destinations of Uganda. (Credit: Solomon Oleny)
According to Laura Kahuga, Third Secretray to Uganda’s Embassy in China, UTB's move is backed by the fact that Uganda has a rich concentration of the products that appeal to this niche, especially cultural destinations and primates.
In line with this objective, the Ugandan Consulate General in Guangzhou has been organizing road shows in some of China’s major cities, such as Guangzhou, Beijing and Shanghai.
Three exhibitions have been in each of these cities since mid-last year.
Solomon Rutega, the Consul General, highlights that the prime objective of the trips is to showcase Uganda’s endearing tourism attractions.
Besides road shows, a series of familiarization trips have been endorsed to enable Chinese tour operators sell Destination Uganda from a fully informed point of view.
“As is the case with the team that has arrived, prime focus is on companies that have specialized in driving tourism traffic to Africa," says Rutega.
Foo Gao is the head of the team and also president of the World Federation of Chinese Catering Industry Tourism and Hospitality Committee.
He says they eagerly look forward to conducting business with Ugandan counterparts during their stay in the country.