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Interview: The East African community should jointly market its tourism

Region should jointly market tourism for better results


As Uganda pushes to revive a tourism sector that was badly beaten by the ripple effects of the covid-19 pandemic Ms Lilly Ajarova, the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) Chief Executive Officer told Karibu Travel Magazine that regional countries have more to win if they jointly marketed their tourism to the world.


The world is opening up after covid-19 lockdowns, how is Uganda positioning itself to revive a tourism sector that previously was the biggest foreign exchange earner?

We do appreciate the fact that the world is opening up. As the Uganda Tourism Board, we are doing our best to push Uganda as a destination such that we achieve more numbers. The number of visitors that had fallen down to zero during the times of total lockdowns is now picking up. We believe that by the end of this year, we should have reached a million visitors.


Is the new destination branding part of this plan?

The new branding, explore Uganda, is to redefine the destination and what it has to offer on the continent. It is intended to see visitors spending more time and money in Uganda.

In refreshing our destination brand, we want everyone to understand what the Pearl of Africa means and the several attractions that it has to offer that they should explore.


You recently launched a drive in Kenya to increase visitors from there, why Kenya and what is this campaign?
For us to be able to target a particular market, we have to first carryout intensive research. While we have started with Kenya, our research has revealed other African countries like Nigeria, Egypt, South Africa and Ethiopia. These are key African markets that can offer so much. These are the continent’s biggest economies and that means that people there have more disposable incomes so we are looking to tap in that for adventure, nature and also religious tourism.

In Kenya for example, we are partnering with several tour operators that can sell packages that include destination Uganda to their clients.


How do you plan to market in Africa, increase international visitors yet Uganda’s tourism sector is one of the least funded in the region? 

The fact is that the investment that government is making in the tourism sector is very limited and inadequate. However there has been an argument by government that other investments it is doing in sectors like infrastructure and security contributes to tourism. We do appreciate that. But some countries that take tourism so serious have gone ahead to use a formula where by at least 5 per cent of their national budget goes to funding tourism promotion. While there has been an improvement in Uganda over the years, we still need more funds.


What are your thoughts on the region jointly marketing tourism?

We have actually just come up with a new EAC marketing strategy after we were disrupted by COVI9-19. There are a lot of opportunities in marketing the region as one destination because there are things unique to the different countries that make up the region. Whereas there are attractions that that all countries have like safari and we are competing against each other, we should lookout for those unique attractions of each country. What is in Kenya that is not in Uganda? What is in Tanzania that is not in Rwanda? Then we can brand and market those as a whole package. That will mean that instead of a tourist visiting one country, they can be able to visit more than one.


What are some of key challenges apart from the funding?
We still have a number of challenges in infrastructure, poor internet connections. We need to see capacity increase of the Entebbe airport and rehabilitation of the aerodromes around the country to facilitate faster movement of visitors.

We also have a challenge of human resource throughout the tourism value chain that can be able to offer high quality services.

Most importantly, we need to invest more in creating awareness about the destination all over the world.






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