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Dubai expo opens Uganda to Middle East market – UTB

 

BY DAILY MONITOR

 

Tourism authorities in Uganda are confident that the ongoing Dubai expo in the United Arab Emirates will help ongoing efforts to market the country to the Middle East, an area viewed as a potential premium tourism market.

The Dubai Expo also known as World Expo is being hosted from October 01, 2021 to March 31, 2022 but was originally scheduled for October 20, 2020 to April 10, 2021 then postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to Ms  Lilly Ajarova, the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) Chief Executive Director, the Dubai expo gives  the country’s  tourism sector a lifeline to leverage on in the quest to recover following the devastating  impact of the corona virus  pandemic which has left the sector limping.

Already after two weeks even with little investment compared to other countries, Ajarova said that Uganda is making gains from its participation in the expo with tourism companies in Dubai and beyond now putting destination Uganda as one of their packages.

“The past two weeks have been successful because tour companies based in Dubai are already putting up holiday packages to Uganda for their clients. We have met with strategic partners like Emirates holidays, Fly Dubai among others which are the tourism arms of the airlines and we hope this will help in increasing the number of visitors from this region,” Ajarova said.

Currently, only three airlines operate direct flights from Entebbe to Dubai, the commercial city of the United Arab Emirates and these are Uganda Airlines, Fly Dubai and Emirates airlines.

The tourism arms of the airlines, by putting destination Uganda on their packages, means that the country will get more numbers of visitors from the market in the Middle East and destinations they fly to.

UTB already has in place firms that are marketing destination Uganda in the Americas, Europe and recently the Middle East and Asia.

“We have established ourselves in Europe and America but the Middle East market is an emerging one and the Dubai expo is a perfect opportunity for us to engage more during these six months and for what we have been able to achieve in the past two weeks is that there is a lot of positivity for this new destination. We need support from everyone,” Ajarova said.

She added that now, the private sector needs to position themselves to welcome this new market’s clients and provide top quality services since it is what will get more visitors to come into the country and stay longer.

“We believe that the numbers from this region are going to increase and the private sector  players should position themselves accordingly and for the general public, we need your support in promoting the country even on social media so that it can encourage the internationals to come to Uganda,” Ajarova said.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, tourism was the country’s biggest foreign exchange earner raking in nearly $1.9 billion but the sector has been badly battered by the  coronas virus pandemic and its ensuing travel restrictions  world over that have left destinations, hotels  and the entire value chain reeling.

The sector that contributes to close to 7% of the country’s GDP is also underfunded, getting just about 1% of the National budget.

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