Fifty tour and travel agencies headline tourist expo

By Edwin Muhumuza

Uganda Tourism Board has commenced activities geared towards promoting Uganda as an African travel destination for African Tourists. This comes ahead of the Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo (POATE) 2020.

Over 50 tour and travel agencies from across the continent are expected to sign partnerships with local companies whereas close to 10 international media houses are due in the country according to the Chief Executive Officer, Lily Ajarova.

“POATE 2020 will integrate a business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C) trade event format under the theme ,Inspiring high value engagement to promoting intra-Africa travel for leisure, business and adventure, aimed at raising Uganda’s profile as a preferred destination in the region and internationally’’

As Uganda positions as a premier tourist destination, the 5th annual Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo is expected to bring together regional and international tour operators, travel agents, destination agencies and various players in the tourism trade to network and facilitate tourism business with local domestic tourism trade- that is composed of largely tour operators, hoteliers, conservationists and government.

“We are basically creating an opportunity for our domestic tourism players, to connect with the rest of the world, so as to showcase what they have to offer and in so doing, help the world discover brand Uganda,” Ajarova said.

The 5th Annual Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo will run from February 4th – 6th 2020 at the Speke Resort in Munyonyo and each subsequent POATE has been building on the lessons and successes of previous editions.

This year’s POATE is quite a unique one and will run under the theme ‘Promoting Intra-Africa Travel’. This theme is aimed at raising Uganda’s profile as a preferred destination in the region and internationally to reflect its strategy to re-balance and segment the tourism portfolio into 4 key segments, Existing overseas markets, Emerging overseas markets, Regional/African market, Domestic market.

The focus being Africa is due to the fact that Africa is one of the fastest growing tourism markets, after Asia and the Pacific;Outbound traffic from Africa in 2018 reached 42 million, according to UNWTO, 4 out of every 5 tourists, travel within their region- more Africans are likely to travel and do travel within their regions, existing ties- most African travelers travel to see friends and family or doing business. Uganda is already doing business with Africa, benefits of African integration (EAC Tourist Visa) and the upcoming African Continental Free Trade Area (AFTA) that will open up more African borders and skies. Relatedly,Africa is rising economically- by 2030- there will be 1 billion Africans in middle class- up from 375 million in 2013.

The Africa Development Bank estimates that by 2030, in the five largest African consumer markets i.e. Nigeria, Egypt, South Africa, Morocco and Algeria — there will be 56 million middle-class households alone with disposable incomes of nearly $680 billion.