Govt to Hire PR Firm to Market Domestic Tourism

Tourists during a white water rafting experience on River Nile.

Uganda is in the process of procuring a Public Relations (PR) firm that will be responsible for marketing the country’s tourism potential to Ugandans.

This was revealed by the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) chief executive, Steven Asiimwe, although he could not divulge details given the confidentiality that guides procurement processes.

Asiimwe said that the PR firm will reinforce UTB which he admitted is not adequately supported to deliver on its mandate. The agency will be hired on a one-year contract (renewable) basis.

“UTB’s capacity to reach the whole country is limited yet we want all round engagements. We have had a lot of interests but capacity has been limited to a few people,” Asiimwe said.

“Domestically, there is so much that Ugandans have not seen, and the biggest challenge has been the mindset, cost, and things are unaccessible”.

He said that the terms of reference for the firm include engaging all media in local languages regularly, to engage stakeholders and to carry out schools outreaches so as to tap into the youth demographics.

“Most importantly, the PR firm will do a mindset change which will translate in more numbers which will then translate in prices coming down,” he told this website.

Asiimwe could not divulge the cost for procurement but he told SoftPower News it would not go below US$ 50,000 (Shs 188m) and that the scope of the contract would gradually expand.

UTB has been spending on average Shs 4 billion annually for its operations including marketing Uganda both to the domestic and foreign markets.

Both government and the private sector share the opinion that for Uganda’s tourism earnings to remain steady, focus should not only be on foreign tourists but that the locals too must be engaged in traveling around the country. This would bridge the gaps in tourist arrivals especially during the low seasons or when the country is suffering negative travel advisories.

There has been campaigns like ‘Tulambule’ aimed at enticing Ugandans to tour the different attractions across the country, as well as the procurement of tourism branded buses to facilitate affordable transport to these areas. These interventions are however yet to produce the desired results.

Great Lakes Safaris chief executive, Amos Wekesa said on Tuesday that procurement of a PR firm is “a good idea” since UTB lacks the capacity to be able to market the country.

He however said that in order for Uganda to reap as much as countries like South Africa generate from tourism, it must invest more money in marketing Uganda.

Government’s move to procure a PR/marketing firm for the domestic market follows what actors in the tourism sector say is a boom in the numbers of tourisms visiting Uganda. This boom, according to Wekesa is due to the PR firms which have been marketing Uganda in North America, the UK and German speaking countries.

“As private sector, we thank the government of Uganda for having hired 3 PR firms in UK, N.America and Germany. Statistics show that the top three source markets for Uganda are actually those very markets,” he said.

Owing to the aggressive marketing, Wekesa said that in the case of his lodge (Primate Lodge), occupancy rates have been steadily rising from 25% last year to 56% this year and 90% next year.

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