- After a one-year hiatus, the Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo is back. It is expected to take place from February 4 to 6 in Kampala. It will bring together regional and international tour operators, international travel agencies. Lilly Ajarova, the Uganda Tourism Board chief executive officer gives insights in the tourism sector.
As an agency in charge of marketing destination Uganda, what do you have lined up in 2020?
First and foremost, I must thank our stakeholders for supporting the tourism sector last year. It was a great year for us and we trust the momentum it gave us will form a firm foundation for a better 2020.
We have already started 2020 and with it, we have a number of activities lined up but for the moment, allow me to introduce to you the Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo that will be happening between February 4 and 6. It will be days dedicated to business to business and then business to consumer engagements where the public is welcomed.
It will be an opportunity to have hoteliers, travel agents and tour operators in one place.
What do you seek to achieve?
As the theme – Promoting Intra-Africa Travel – our focus will mainly be on Africa in terms of promoting travel. Africans are traveling thanks to the African Union and other treaties currently in place.
The treaties have opened up accessibility within a number of countries. According to data, most of the travelers coming into Uganda are actually from within Africa. Therefore, we want to focus our energy on this potential as we position Uganda as a tourism destination on the continent.
How are you drawing in participants?
Have a number options but the main channel is an online portal that we have developed on our website.
So for anyone intending to participate either as an exhibitor or trade visitor, it is open 24/7 for registration. The portal will also provide participants with an opportunity to know who is attending from with Uganda and outside. We have exhibition stalls in different sizes.
What should participants expect?
We are making a provision for knowledge exchange. Definitely, we shall have seminars over the three days on different topics such as sustainable tourism development, sustainable tour operations and accommodation, tourism investment and emerging trends in the tourism and hospitality sector.
These will help stakeholders and participants to share into a highly influential and growing industry.
We have also received request for a few other roundtable discussions on specific subjects in smaller networking groups.
seem to be targeting a large audience. How are you leveraging on online
presence to keep your audience on tabs with on-goings?
To keep everybody informed, we are developing a Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo 2020 application with necessary information such as the programme and a map of the exhibition area that will enable participants locate who and what is where for easy navigation.
Who have you invited for the expo and how are Ugandans expected to benefit from the annual expo?
The Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo is an important activity for the tourism sector in Uganda.
We shall have international travelers and buyers hosted here for at least four or more days.
At least we shall be hosting 50 companies from within Africa and around 10 international media personalities, who have a huge network to market destination Uganda.
Before the expo starts, the hosted buyers and media are scheduled to get hear a week before and we are going to take them around the country to experience the Pearl of Africa before they settle in for meetings.
Therefore, the expo will not only enable Ugandans to cash in through accommodation, food and knowledge exchange, but it will also give Uganda international exposure.
The world is online, how active are you on that front?
We have pretty much started already. Online communications are going on, on our website and all other our digital and social media platforms.
We will also be pushing content platforms that will trend under the #VisitUganda and #Poate2020 hashtags.
We already have the profiles of some of the key speakers of the different seminars. Their profiles detail their expertise.
This helps people to know that these are serious people with wealth of knowledge who are coming to be part of the seminars so that they are encouraged to attend and learn from these gurus.