The 2020 Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo (POATE) is underway at Speke Resort Hotel Munyonyo having opened on Tuesday, attracting hundreds of both local and international participants.
POATE is a tourism and travel trade exhibition which brings together regional and international tour operators, travel agents, destination agencies and various players in the tourism trade to network with Uganda’s domestic tourism trade – that is composed of largely tour operators, hoteliers, conservationists and government.
According to Lilly Ajarova, the Uganda Tourism Board Chief Executive Officer, the board is using the event to create an opportunity for domestic tourism players to connect with the rest of the world so as to showcase what they have to offer.
She says, doing this will help the world discover Uganda, the Pearl of Africa.
“POATE is a form of what, in marketing is called experiential awareness, creating knowledge, familiarity and believability through involving and creating real-life experiences,” Ajarova told participants at the opening ceremony on Tuesday.
A number of activities especially for our international guests have taken place to showcase what Uganda has to offer.
“We did organise a 6 days and 5 nights experience, featuring a fusion of adventure, culture, food, nature and urban tourism across Uganda. And for the next three (3) days, there will be a series of mutually beneficial business to business and business to customer engagements that should result into hundreds of business relationships as well as hundreds of thousands of tourists and, most importantly, hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue to everybody involved in the chain”.
“The beauty of tourism, is that both those attending POATE 2020 and several thousands of others not in attendance, including those who do not even know or will never know this meeting ever happened, will all benefit. Such is the transformative power of tourism,” Ajarova added.
Currently, tourism in Uganda contributes nearly 8% to GDP, employs over 667,000 Ugandans which is over 6.7% of Uganda’s total employment. The sector also contributes USD1.6b in foreign exchange earnings.
Ajarova says the figures could even rise if the POATE participants fully visit Uganda and appreciate her beauty and endowments so as to tell a true story of destination Uganda to the people back home.
She said these should tell their people that Uganda presents richest and most diverse range of human, natural, cultural and historical attractions complemented by a warm tropical climate, warm people, great accommodations
and great food.
She explained that Uganda offers the best value for money because with her highest concentration of attractions over a smaller geographical area, one gets to see more for less and that there is something for everyone as a destination.
“We do offer the best value for
money,” she says.
She further informed participants that there are big returns on tourism investment in Uganda which tourists and operators should appreciate.
“We are greatly endowed with
attractions many of them untapped, friendly regulatory environment and a great incentive regime and great infrastructure. Our visitor numbers in some cases are growing faster than the regional averages,” noted the UTB boss.
On Connectivity, she said the coming of Uganda Airlines has since made it easier for tourists to get in and out of Uganda with not difficulties.
“It is easier to get into Uganda by air from virtually anywhere around the world- 32,735 flights in FY18/19. With Uganda Airlines, there will be faster and more convenient direct routes especially from Africa. It is also easier to get around by air, road and water,” said Ajarova.
She further reiterated that Uganda is picking a leaf and going ahead in the practice of sustainable tourism and that in partnership with the private sector associations, a number of training are currently underway.