By Shadrack Nyakoe
Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) is seeking to partner with Kenyan tour operators to boost intra-African tourism between the two East African countries with a focus on encouraging more tourists from Kenya to explore the natural, adventure, leisure, business, and cultural attractions that Uganda has to offer.
The roadshow comes in the wake of an intensified campaign by UTB to reposition Uganda – The Pearl of Africa’ as a leading tourism destination in Africa under a new brand dubbed “Explore Uganda”. To kick off the activities, UTB has launched a roadshow at the Sarova Stanley Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya, from 23rd to 25th May in a bid to increase tourist arrivals from Kenya by 50% in 2023.
Kenya is a key tourism source market making up almost half of the African arrivals to the country. With Kenya’s developed travel trade sector, coupled with its connectivity to the rest of the world, Uganda Travel Trade partners will bank on the roadshow to secure partnerships that increase tourists to Uganda from Kenya. Over 278 operators from Kenya will create business linkages with 35 operators from Uganda.
Speaking at the launch ceremony, Uganda’s Deputy High Commissioner to Kenya, His Excellency Evans Aryabaha, hailed the tourism industry as a powerful catalyst that will enhance the bilateral and cultural relations between the two countries. On her part, Ms. Claire Mugabi, UTB Marketing Manager said that Kenya is the biggest source market of tourists in Uganda, and outlined future plans to increase awareness of Uganda as a destination that offers an adventure of a lifetime.
“Our refreshed destination brand identity captures the essence of the Pearl of Africa with its mesmerizing experiences catering to the needs of diverse travellers with its endemic and endangered flora and fauna, pleasant year-round weather, punctuated by unique scenery,” she added.
Kenya Association of Tour Operators Chair Mr. Fred Odek emphasized the need for joint tourism promotional activities by Kenya and Uganda tourism stakeholders.
“We see a great opportunity for outbound tourism to the East African Community (EAC) countries to get more tourists to Kenya and simultaneously send tourists from Kenya to other countries in the region. Uganda will benefit significantly owing to its geographical proximity and long history of good relations with Kenya,” said Mr. Odek.
Over 278 Kenya tourism and travel agents are expected to participate in the roadshow that is aimed at enhancing Destination Uganda’s presence in the Kenyan market. The event will also boost business-to-business opportunities while strengthening Explore Uganda brand in Kenya.
The highlights of the three-day roadshow include the Pearl of Africa brand launch in Kenya, direct engagements with key tourism trade partners, government representatives, and travel media.
Before the pandemic, Uganda received over 1.5 million tourists in 2019 and registered over 512,000 travellers in 2020.
However, the country’s tourism industry is poised for recovery with renewed emphasis on the intra-African travel market as a key marketing strategy. in 2019, the Tourism sector contributed 7.7% of Uganda’s GDP and over 667,000 jobs. 58% of the Uganda tourism workforce is composed of women.
Tourism data from 2019 shows the top three African source markets in included Rwanda (32%), Kenya (24%), and Tanzania 6%. President Yoweri Museveni described the new brand Explore Uganda, Pearl of Africa as a key strategy to re-imagine Uganda’s tourism sector and position the country as a competitive international travel destination.