With Uganda’s Tourism sector steadily growing over the years, 2018, can be declared by all tourism promoters and enthusiasts as the ever best year the country has ever received the largest number of tourists.
Uganda Tourism Board officially declared 2018 as Uganda’s best Tourism year ever after recording more visitors than it has ever had in any year in its history.
According to Uganda Tourism Board figures, the country had by the end of October 2018 received 1.7 million visitors way above the 1.4 million visitors it recorded in 2017.
“So far, this year, we have surpassed last year’s tourists’ numbers by 300,000,” said John Ssempebwa the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Uganda Tourism Board during the launch of the Tulambule Tourism Campaign at the Uganda Museum.
With such growing numbers, it led the tourism officials to excitedly set a target of hitting 4 million tourists by 2020.
“This will be achieved through aggressive marketing for domestic, regional, continental and international tourism campaigns. We have segmented the tourism campaigns in four categories. The Tulambule campaign targeting domestic tourists, Twende Uganda for fellow east Africans, Destination Uganda for the rest of African market and the Pearl of Africa Tourism Campaign that targets the rest of the world,” said Uganda’s State Tourism Minister Godfrey Kiwanda.
“With aggressive marketing from all of us Ugandans, we shall be able to hit that target,” added Kiwanda.
Uganda has set its sight on tourism, earning Ush 10 trillion ($2.7b) by 2020, the industry is the country’s leading foreign exchange earner and brought $1.35b into the country in 2017, followed by remittances from abroad that forked $1.1b.
It meant that the sector contribution was 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,” notes Prof. Ephraim Kamuntu the Tourism Minister.
Uganda boasts rich biodiversity, including mountain gorillas, birds, elephants, giraffes etc. and has multiple parks. It has underlined plans to hire three additional public relations firms to market the country in China, India, and the Gulf States.
Uganda already has three other public relations firms I doing marketing in Germany, United Kingdom and the United States.
Participation in International Tourism Exhibitions
In 2018, Uganda took part in five major tourism exhibitions that included the World Travel Markets Exhibition in London, International Tourism Bourse (ITB) Berlin, INDABA Tourism Expo in Durban South Africa, Tourism exhibitions in China and the Tourism Road Shows in USA and Canada. This trend of participating in international tourism expos must continue in 2019, to keep visibility as well as widening the country’s tourism potentials.
Tourism Uganda has now set its sight on having more East Africans visit by participating in the Karibu Tourism Exhibition in Tanzania and Magical Kenya which is held in Mombasa every year.
Uganda is also a host to the Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo, that is held every year in the Sheraton Gardens. It also hosted the 6th Annual Uganda International Hotels & Restaurants Expo that was held at Hotel Africana that brings together all enthusiasts in the hotel sector.
According to Kamuntu, the country will continue showcasing its rich culture, including traditional dances, Ugandan foods, the source of the Nile etc.
“Initially, we relied on two or three-day exhibitions, where we would camp in the countries (the United Kingdom, United States of America and Germany) to showcase Uganda’s beauty, but then realized a better strategy,” says Ssempebwa, deputy CEO for the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB).
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 capitalize on a “proven strategy” to attract more travellers.
As a result, Ssempebwa notes 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 register a significant increase in the UK market because of Brexit (when Britain voted to exit the European Union),” Ssempebwa said.
Coming of Kanye West and Wife Kim Kardashian
The coming of American rapper Kanye West, who was in Uganda in late September entirely on a private visit, and is set to return to Uganda this January or February 2019, somehow put Uganda’s tourism on the international map.
West, who was born in Atlanta and raised in Chicago, is expected to return to Uganda and take up a tourism ambassadorial role.
Quinn Abenakyo becoming Miss World Africa and 2nd Runners-Up Miss Uganda
The 22-year-old Computer Science student defied all odds to be crowned Miss World Africa. Quinn Abenakyo, who hails from Mayuge District in Eastern Uganda, if marketed and her image used very well can send Uganda to all heights in the tourism industry.