Government is targeting more sightseers and hiring additional public relations firms to market the country in China, India and the Gulf States
Prof. Ephraim Kamuntu, the Minister for Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, says Uganda is targeting $2.7b (sh10trillion) from tourists coming into the county.
Kamuntu made the remarks while announcing this year’s World Tourism Day festivities that will take place at Jinja on September 27.
Tourism is Uganda’s leading foreign exchange earner and brought $1.35b into the country in 2015, followed by remittances equivalent to $1.1b.
The sector contributes about 10% to Uganda’s Gross Domestic Product, estimated at sh7.3trillion.
“We have lots of diversity which other countries do not have. We need to take advantage of this and market ourselves,” said Kamuntu.
This was at the Media Centre in Kampala on Thursday, where Uganda Tourism Board said arrivals into the country hit in excess of a million last year.
But the board and government are targeting more sightseers and hiring three additional public relations firms to market country in China, India, and the Gulf States.
“We are targeting $2.7b (sh10trillion) from the sector,” said Kamuntu.
Uganda boasts a rich biodiversity, including mountain gorillas, birds, elephants, giraffes etc. and has multiple parks.
Specifically for this year’s tourism festivities, the country targeted more than a million visitors from the East African Community and beyond.
Kamuntu said the country will showcase Uganda’s rich culture, including traditional dances, Ugandan foods, the source of the Nile etc.
There will be pre-event activities including the Uganda Hotels and Restaurants Expo at Hotel Africana, an annual tourism sports gala at MUBS sports ground on September 16 and a smart tourism conference at Hotel Africana, which will be hosted together with NITA-U.
Other activities include a colour run which will be held in Jinja on September 22, an international cultural fair and a stone fest on September 22 at Jinja.
After a hugely successful marketing campaign, which almost doubled the number of UK and US tourists coming into the country last year, the Uganda Tourism Board is looking to capitalise on a “proven strategy” to attract more travellers.
“Initially, we relied on two or three-day exhibitions, where we would camp in the countries (United Kingdom, United States of America and Germany) to showcase Uganda’s beauty, but then realised a better strategy,” said John Ssempebwa, deputy CEO for the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB).
Today, the board hires professional public relations firms who do everyday marketing promoting the Pearl of Africa country.
“The everyday, more one-on-one marketing is doing wonders,” said Ssempebwa. “We have more articles about Uganda in the English press. We have more agents who will recommend Uganda as a place to visit.”
As a result of the public relations firm’s work, Ssempebwa said the number of tourists from the US increased from 45,000 in 2016 to 90,000 last year. The number of tourists from Germany increased from about 10,000 to 14,000 over the same period.
“We did not not register a significant increase in the UK market because of Brexit (when Britain voted to exit the European Union),” Ssempebwa said.
But now that the Euro has stabilised, the board was starting to realise an increment from the country. This success is what prompted ventures into the extra three markets.
“We are on the right track and we cannot stop now,” he said.
He said government has called for bids from prospective firms that can do the work.
“China is a huge partner for Uganda’s transformation,” said Kamuntu. “It is such a huge market.”
He said President Yoweri Museveni who is in China to attend the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation will also to market country to the Chinese.
“We are targeting Indians. Mahatma Gandhi (leader of the Indian independence movement against British rule) requested his ashes be scattered at the source of the River Nile in Uganda. So, we have a good place to start,” said Kamuntu.
Ssempebwa said UTB spent about sh6.4b on the three PR firms, but will spend less on new contracts.
He said they will also continue marketing in the UK, US and Germany.