KAMPALA, UGANDA – Dear Ugandans and all foreigners resident or working in Uganda, it is with great pleasure that I take this opportunity to wish you all a more pleasant 2017 full of memorable trips that you will enjoy while visiting new and improved sites all over Uganda, undisputed Pearl of Africa.
Last year, Uganda Tourism Board made giant strides for our dear country, the Pearl of Africa; I am pleased to inform you that we have refined our marketing strategy. In 2016, for the 1st time in Uganda’s history, on your behalf, we hired three firms to market the Pearl of Africa in United States, United Kingdom and Germany. These firms are devotedly operational under our vigilant supervision. Uganda is increasingly receiving continued coverage worth millions of dollars in leading media houses in these markets. To be exact, Uganda has already received media publicity worth nearly 4 Million U.S. dollars. A lot more is expected by the end of 12 months for which the firms were hired.
From this intervention, we expect tourists from U.S to increase from 49,414 in 2015 to at least 60,000 in the year 2017; tourists from United to increase from 40,851 in 2015 to 60,000 in 2017 and tourists from Germany to increase from 9,585 in 2015 to at least 15,000. I wish to encourage every business involved in tourism to expect and harness this increased interest from these markets. Special care should be given to receiving German tourists that may not be very fluent in German. Taking short courses in the German language may come in handy at this time. On the international scene, we shall continue attending major exhibitions alongside our tour operators to link them to their established counterparts in wisely-selected markets. We are also working closely with Uganda’s foreign missions in key source markets to publicize the Pearl of Africa and to link our tour operators to tour operators from established markets where we have foreign missions.
On the domestic front, we wish to appreciate the increased interest from all Ugandans in tourist sites all over Uganda. Ugandans are surely rediscovering the Pearl of Africa; during the Christmas period, we closely observed as Ugandans and expatriates filled tourism sites all over Uganda. We wish to appreciate the lead role played by outstanding domestic tourists such as Rotaract and Rotary, Rally Fans, Sports Fans, Culture Enthusiasts, The Slayers, Mr. Dibo and friends, Mr. Kyamutetera and many more others. Going forward, we shall continue supporting domestic campaigns including Tulambule and others. We strongly wish to encourage the private sector to design such initiatives that will encourage more Ugandans to explore Uganda.
For the first time in Africa, we hosted Africa’s first ever Birding Expo at the Botanical Gardens Entebbe. This expo exposed Uganda as the world’s premium birders’ destination, boasting of 50% of Africa’s bird species and 10% of the world’s species. This Expo shall continue to grow and be Africa and Uganda’s signature birding event.
I am pleased to invite you all to grace the Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo to experience all the tourism sites that exist all over Uganda, albeit in one single venue. Entrance to the expo will be free of charge for all of you. We have organized the country into 13 tourism destinations namely Busoga, Far Eastern, Lango, Acholi, West Nile, Bunyoro, Toro, Rwenzori, Kigezi, Greater Ankole, Ssese Islands and Buganda; most of our domestic interventions will aim at promoting these unbelievably gifted destinations.
We continue to regulate the tourism industry to improve the quality of service you receive. So far, we have classified 61 hotels all over the country; 5 of which have received 5-star rating. This exercise is continuing and we encourage all tourist accommodations to have their facilities classified as it shall amplify their credibility. The service is currently done free of charge. We also worked closely with KCCA to train waiters and cooks of the different hotels in and around Kampala in order to increase service quality in the highly competitive industry. We have trained tour operators as well. We shall continue training staff employed by tourism facilities such as accommodation facilities, tour operators, tour guides, and many others, free of charge.
We would like to thank our partners in the private sector, Uganda Tourism Association [UTA], Uganda Hotel Owners Association [UHOA], Association of Uganda Tour Operators [AUTO], TUGATA, the association of Travel Agencies, Tour Guide Associations such as USAGA and UTGA, as well as our partner agencies such as UWA, UWEC, Ngamba Island, HTTI, Civil Aviation Authority and many others for the continued collaboration. We pledge unwavering commitment to collaborative efforts in promoting Destination Uganda.
In 2017, our major effort will be placed on strengthening our Brand Promise – The Pearl of Africa. Building a strong national destination brand will require your involvement as well as the support of every Ugandan and Ugandan institution including Parliament, Police, Army, Sports teams, media houses, Opposition, Boda Boda, etc. We shall be at your door step to guide you on how best you too can participate and benefit from a stronger destination brand as soon as we launch the national Brand Manual.
Our commitment to promoting Uganda as a world class travel destination continues. We wish to assure you all that we have transformed into a result-oriented organization dedicated to increasing the numbers of both foreign and domestic visitors to our tourism sites as well as regulating the tourism enterprises to ensure high quality of services. Whereas there is still a lot of room for improvement, rest assured that we are on the right track as an agency of the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities guided by the Minister, Hon. Ephraim Kamuntu, State Minister Hon. Godfrey Kiwanda alongside the Permanent Secretary Mrs. Doreen Katusiime.
Finally, we wish to encourage individuals that know about or possess undeveloped sites, as well as communities that own or live nearby sites associated with rich heritage to contact us for assistance and guidance. Uganda has more than wildlife – it is blessed with centuries-old stories that have to be told and sold. Do not hesitate to walk in to our offices for guidance on how best to convert your rich heritage/history into dollars. Together, we can tap into tourism to create jobs for our especially rural populations. Thank You
By John Ssempebwa
Deputy Chief Executive Director
UGANDA TOURISM BOARD