The move comes at a time when Uganda is Kenya’s top market in the region
One of the most effective approaches of marketing a destination is hosting a vibrant Travel Trade fare. To be exact, one that brings together travel agents, tour operators, hoteliers, destination managers and other service providers along the tourism value chain. Accordingly, preparations for the second edition of Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo (POATE) are in high gear.
Organized annually, POATE is a continental event that provides a unique opportunity for the tourism business operators to meet new clients, network, and market and discuss business. It comes across as the biggest event in Uganda's tourism calendar.
Stephen Asiimwe, Chief Executive Director UTB, explains that this year's expo as scheduled for February 17th-19th at Sheraton gardens will be dedicated to raising the profile of Uganda as a preferred destination both domestically and regionally.
In line with this objective, 69 Hosted Buyers and Media have been flown into the country to grace the event. Most of these are from Uganda's key source markets like the US, UK and German. The move is inspired by the need to arm them with experiences needed in enabling one market a destination from a fully informed point of view.
"In view of that, they are being taken on a weeklong familiarization trips around the country's attractions, ahead of the expo." says Asiimwe
On the other hand, Edwin Muhazura, Head of Marketing observes that in contrast to last year's edition which attracted less than 30 hosted buyers and 120 exhibitors, this year's expo is expected congregate 300 exhibitors.
He bases his projections on bookings and reservations that have been made with UTB over the last one year. It is partly in this regard that the show will hosted at Sheraton Gardens as it is more spacious, unlike Serena Hotel, the previous host.
On the whole the biggest catch with this year's expo is its timing. Apart from being organized at a time when most travel agencies are looking for emerging markets to venture into. It comes at a time when tourism traffic to the country is expected to scale up—following an increment in frequency of flights to Entebbe by over five Airlines. These include Ethiopian Airways, Emirates, Rwandair, Etihad and Fly Dubai.
Muzahura further adds that ample priority has been given to tapping the Kenyan Market as Uganda's products appeal to folks who don't like crowded attractions. Something typical of what Kenyans love when it comes to safari.
The move comes at a time when Uganda is Kenya's top market in the region. According to KTB Ag. Chief Executive Officer Jacinta Nzioka-Mbithi, Kenya recorded a 16% growth in arrival based on the first quarter results of 2016(Jan-March) with 8,200 up from 7,072 arrivals last year.
Safi Ali, the Contact person for the event notes that it will be crowned with the launching of the East African Tourism Portal. This is a system through which Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda will be jointly marketed as a single destination to foreign travel markets.
In agreement with Muzahura, Asiimwe highlights that the expo is not exclusive to the foreign tourism market. It has been tailored to penetrate the domestic Travel Market. In view of that, there will be 13 Tourism clusters from the respective sub regions across the country to showcase inviting products in their localities. These range from Eco-tourism, cultural tourism and historical tourism among many.