Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) to target China, India and Gulf states

After a hugely successful marketing campaign, the Uganda Tourism Board is looking to capitalise on a “proven strategy” to attract more travelers — this time focusing on the Chinese and Indian and Gulf state markets.

The campaign almost doubled the number of UK and US tourists coming into the country last year.

“Initially, we relied on two or three-day exhibitions, where we would camp in the countries (United Kingdom, United States of America and Germany) to showcase Uganda’s beauty, but then realised a better strategy,” John Ssempebwa, deputy CEO for the tourism board, said.

So, now, the board tasked to market Uganda to the world and increase inflow of tourists, hires professional public relations firms to do an everyday sale for the Pearl of Africa country.

“The everyday, more one-on-one marketing, is doing wonders,” said Ssempebwa. We have more articles about Uganda in the English press. We have more agents who will recommend Uganda as a place to visit.”

This was at the Media Centre in Kampala on Thursday. According to UTB, arrivals into the country last year hit in excess of a million tourists.

As a result of the PR firms’ work, Ssempebwa said a number of tourists from the US increased from 45,000 in 2016 to 90,000 last year.

The number of tourists from Germany increased from about 10,000 to 14,000 over the same period.

“We didn’t not register significant increase in the UK market because of Brexit (when Britain voted to exit EU),” Ssempebwa said.

But, it should be noted that, the Euro has stabilised the board. It was starting to realise an increment from the country.

This success is what has promoted ventures in an extra three markets.

“We are on the right track and we cannot stop now,” said the deputy CEO.

Professor Ephraim Kamuntu, Minister for Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, said government prioritised China, India, and the Gulf states (of Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates).

Government has called for bids from prospective firms that think can do the work.

“China is a huge partner for Uganda’s transformation,” he said. “It is such a huge market.”

He said President Yoweri Museveni will travel to the Asian country next week to attend the Forum on China–Africa Cooperation but also to market the country to the Chinese.

“We are targeting Indians. Mahatma Gandhi (leader of the Indian independence movement against British rule) requested his ashes be sprayed at the source of the Nile here in Uganda. So, we have a good place to start,” said Kamuntu.

Ssempebwa said UTB spent about sh6.4b on the three PR firms, but will spend less on new contracts.

He said they will also continue marketing in the UK, US and Germany.

Tourism is Uganda’s leading foreign exchange earner and brought into the country $1.35b in 2015, followed by remittances equivalent to $1.1b.

The sector contributes about 10% to Uganda’s GDP, estimated at sh7.3trillion in 2015.

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