The Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo (POATE), 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 is in high gear.
The expo will run from February 4th – 6th 2020 at the Speke Resort Munyonyo.
This year’s POATE, which is the 5th, will run under the theme ‘Promoting Intra-Africa’. This theme is aimed at raising Uganda’s profile as a preferred destination in the region and internationally.
The theme also mirrors the strategy to rebalance and segment into Uganda’s tourism portfolio into 4 key segments including; existing overseas markets, emerging overseas markets, regional/African market and domestic market.
Lilly Ajarova, the Chief Executive Officer of Uganda Tourism Board (UTB), the body mandated by the government to promote destination Uganda while addressing the media in Kampala said this year’s POATE will focus on building links into the African market through which they expect to increase the number of tourists visiting the Pearl of Africa and coming specifically from Africa.
About why the UTB has set focus on the African market, Ajarova said, “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.
“Other factors that will facilitate tourists from within Africa to come to Uganda include the existing ties where most African travellers travel to see friends and families or doing business.
“Uganda is already doing business with Africa, the 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,” said Ajarova.
Africa is rising economically and 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 which include; Nigeria, Egypt, South Africa, Morocco and Algeria, there will be 56 million middle-class households alone with disposable incomes of nearly USD.680 Billion.
“We are also targeting key emerging tourist markets, namely: China, Russia, Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines and India, all of which have outbound tourism markets in tens of billions of dollars,” Ajarova noted.
“We will be positioning and reinforcing Uganda as The Pearl of Africa, especially as; The richest and diverse range of human, natural, cultural and historical attractions complemented by a warm tropical climate, warm people, great accommodations and great food.
“Best Value for Money, comparatively competitive prices, yet with the highest concentration of attractions over a smaller geographical area.
“Connectivity, it is easier to get into Uganda by air from virtually anywhere around the world. 32,735 flights in FY18/19. With Uganda Airlines, there will be more direct routes, especially from Africa. It is also easier to get around by air, road and water,” stressed Ajarova.
Big returns on tourism investment, greatly endowed with attractions, many of them untapped, friendly regulatory environment and a great incentive regime and great infrastructure, she added.
Confirmed guests for POATE include more than 57 hosted buyers from Africa (South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Zanzibar, Botswana, Tanzania, Malawi and Zimbabwe) and the rest of the world (Thailand, Germany, Russia, Malaysia, Philippines, India, USA and Italy).
10 international media from Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, India, Belgium and USA. They are all due in the country ahead of the scheduled fam trips.
Ajarova noted that there were over 200 slots for the domestic players (tour operators, exhibitors, hotels, government agencies among others) and all these are booked out.
“Through the Uganda Tourism Association, many domestic partners have risen up to this opportunity.”
She noted that some of the key milestones that shall be achieved at POATE will be witnessed through the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Uganda Tourism Board and specific Airlines on promotional support and destination branding.
There will also be MOUs signing between the board and invited international media houses on Promotional support and destination branding, Contracts between Uganda’s travel trade operators ( TOs, hotels etc.) and the invited hosted buyers.
“Familiarisation trips for international hosted buyers and international media which is aimed at giving international guests, a taste of some of the great experiences that Uganda has to offer will be arranged.
“We have packaged four different excursions- each of them 6 days and 5 nights, featuring a fusion of adventure, culture, food, nature and urban tourism,” said Ajarova.
BY FRANK SEMATA