The tourism expo showcases what Uganda’s tourism has to offer in terms of attractions, facilities and experiences
TOURISM | EXPO
By Stephen Asiimwe
The king of the jungle will take up temporary residence at the Sheraton Kampala Gardens between on February.
All those Ugandans who have never seen a lion in real life are, therefore, advised to make plans and be there. The king will be in the company of other powerful cats such as leopards and the cheetah, up close and personal.
Three editions have come and gone, but this year’s Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo (POATE) is destined to be one of the most exciting, complete with a mini zoo and helicopter rides.
The theme for 2018, is ‘Rediscover the Pearl’. This is appropriate in light of the sad fact that many of us still take Uganda’s natural beauty, splendor and magnificence for granted.
Yet many parts of the biodiversity that is part and parcel of this country’s heritage is rarely found anywhere else in the world. Hence the high praise, all those decades ago, from the formidable Winston Churchill who was not given to throwing around words lightly- ‘the Pearl of Africa’. In 1907 for magnificence, for variety of form and colour, for profusion of brilliant life — bird, insect, reptile, beast — for vast scale — Uganda is truly “the Pearl of Africa.”
The Kingdom of Uganda is a fairy tale. The scenery is different, the climate is different and most of all, the people are different from anything elsewhere to be seen in the whole range of Africa….what message I bring back….concentrate on Uganda.
Uganda is from end to end a ‘beautiful garden’ where ‘staple food’ of the people grows almost without labour. Does it not sound like a paradise on earth? It is the Pearl of Africa!!
The main objective of this year’s expo is not only to blow our own trumpet about the wide variety of leisure options available in Uganda, but most importantly to get Ugandans themselves to go out and appreciate them.
It is notable that regional interest in Uganda is also growing and several neighbouring tourism board representatives will attend the expo. On top of that, teams of foreign media will be on the prowl looking for that special something that makes Uganda a favourite choice for major travel sites, including, CNN Travel, Lonely Planet, Trip Advisor, SNBC Travel and Rough Guides.
As always, POATE showcases what Uganda’s tourism has to offer in terms of attractions, facilities and experiences.
Visitors can sample several products in one place while also getting a chance to mingle and network for new business opportunities. You can be sure, by the end of the event, some serious deals will have been made, because travel and tourism is the world's largest commercial service sector industry.
In Uganda’s case, it generates just over a billion dollars annually in foreign exchange and contributes 10% of GDP. It has emerged as the top forex earner and one of the top employers in the service industry.
However, all this can become irrelevant if Ugandans do not support our hospitality industry by visiting the various heritage, historical and archeological sites, national parks and game reserves. Let us embrace what has been gifted to us by nature and demystify the long held view that these attractions are only for foreigners.
It is true, some of the wealthiest people in world, like Bill and Melinda Gates, have flown half way across the globe just to have a glimpse of the mountain gorilla. But how unfortunate, that many of us have never even visited the Wildlife Education Centre at Entebbe, the Botanical Gardens,
The three-day tourist bonanza that has had five tourism boards, airlines, hotel chains, cultural groups, will run from Friday, February 23 to 25.
It will also include a children’s section, food court, camel riding, site seeing buses for Kampala and the national parks.
While POATE is mainly a Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) initiative, its steady growth in terms of profile and positive impact on the industry, is attributed to the teamwork between government institutions and the private sector.
Will you be there?
The writer is the chief executive officer of Uganda Tourism Board