By Edwin Muhumuza
Uganda has kick started activities that will see the resumption of tourism domestically regionally and internationally online.
This follows the launch of the Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo (POATE) 2021, 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 and facilitate the tourism business.
The three-day expo will run under the theme “Restarting tourism for regional economic development” from April, 23rd -25th, with a view to ensure recovery, rebuilding, reconnecting and rebooting the tourism industry according to the Lily Ajarova , the CEO, Uganda Tourism Board.
‘More than 200 exhibitors are expected through leveraging on Information Technology while ensuring we increase destination awareness, increase product Knowledge, enhance tourism service distribution, to create new business deals and enhance private sector development.
Our estimated Rate of Return is Shs. 12.2billion shillings in the subsequent financial year.’ she noted.
Ms Ajarova further added that the move will help in relationship building, networking and explore corporate exchanges and activities.
While highlighting the magnitude of the lock down, the CEO, said that the industry lost one million tourists, translating into four trillion Uganda shillings in exchange earnings and so launching POATE 21 was a step in time.
Tourism Minister Godfrey Kiwanda Suubi who launched the event, stressed the need to ensure first with the success of domestic tourism.
‘A country that does not do well in domestic tourism cannot succeed in international tourism. The re-connection cannot only be international but should be domestic and so we must connect with the Ugandans first’ Kiwanda noted.
His remarks were in support to calls from the private sector players led by Chairperson Uganda Tourism Board, Pearl Kakooza, who called for the need to push for domestic flights which will kick start tourism in the region.
‘Eight hours to Bwindi by road is a long way. If we had commercial flights domestically, we would be able to reach all tourism sites within the country.
We expect business to come our way because the market we are targeting is still in lockdown and so have time to browse and find out more about the destination Uganda, Kakooza said.
On his part chairman of the Board, Daudi Migereko said that it was their duty to keep on reminding those markets under lockdown of the existence of tourism in the country and so the need to take advantage of emerging opportunities.