Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) is set to host the 5th annual Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo (POATE 2020); 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 tourism business.
Uganda, famous for its green and equatorial national parks. These include Queen Elizabeth National Park -Uganda’s most-visited National Park, Murchison Falls National Park -Uganda’s largest national park, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park famous for its mountain gorillas and Rwenzori Mountain, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The three-day expo will run from 4-6 February 2020 and will be held at the Speke Resort in Munyonyo. POATE 2020 will integrate business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C) trade event format under the theme “Inspiring high-value engagement to promote Intra Africa travel for leisure, business and adventure”. It aims to raise Uganda’s profile as a preferred destination in the region and internationally.
The countdown to the event was launched recently by Godfrey Kiwanda, the State Minister for Tourism Wildlife and Antiquities. He noted the board’s focus on Intra- Africa travel.
This comes as statistics by UTB show a rising interest of tourists to Uganda. Kenya and Rwanda combined to provide 55 percent of all tourist arrivals in 2018. The other top ten markets were Tanzania (7%), United States of America (4%), Dem. Republic of Congo (3%), Burundi (3%), South Sudan (3%), India (3%), United Kingdom (2%), and South Africa (2%).Uganda witnessed a 7.4% increase in international tourist arrivals in 2018, growing from 1,402,409 in 2017 to 1,506,669 in 2018. Direct revenue from international tourism rose to US$1.6 billion in 2018, compared to US$1.453 billion in 2017.
Tourists from international air accounted for approximately 31% of the total international tourist arrivals to Uganda in 2018, growing by10.2% compared to the previous year. Growth was recorded from Europe, the Americas, Asia and the Middle East in 2018.
African land markets (regional and neighboring countries) that entered Uganda by road makeup 69% of Uganda’s international arrivals, and grew by 6.1% in 2018. The biggest number of tourist arrivals to Uganda in 2018 was from Africa. The top ten sources of tourist arrivals into Uganda made up about 82 percent of the total arrivals.
“Tourism has long been advocated as an alternative strategy for economic development and social reconstruction. The focus on Intra- Africa travel during this expo and beyond is aimed to increase the number of African arrivals to Uganda. With the revival of the Uganda Airlines, regional connectivity is easier and this among others will allow for intra- Africa travel to thrive.”
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UTB Board Chairman, Hon Daudi Migereko noted that POATE is a strategic avenue to market and promote the country to a group of select hosted buyers in a broader goal to increase tourist arrivals to Uganda as per the UTB strategic plan. “Trade expos have been to drive high-value engagement and the focus on Africa is timely for Uganda given the recent interest of travelers on the continent.
Lilly Ajarova, the UTB CEO said that POATE is one of the key strategies for the promotion of Uganda’s tourism in the region and across the world. The expo facilitates key linkages through hosted buyers between tourists and our domestic tour operators. Furthermore, it allows Uganda to showcase directly to various groups of hosted buyers who play a key role in the increment of visitor arrivals.
“On a weeklong FAM trip kicking off in January 2020, we shall host and showcase to hosted buyers to some of Uganda’s unique experiences and gems and ensure a rich and memorable experience so they get a hands-on sense of Uganda as a tourist destination. Hosted buyers will include tour agents, travel media, hoteliers; among others and over 70 hosted buyers are expected from Uganda’s key source markets such as Africa, North America, Canada, UK, Germany, Switzerland, among others,” Ajarova noted.
The first two days of the event will constitute seminars and workshops, B2B meetings and conferences while the last day will be open to the public for B2C engagements between the public and attending exhibitors and hosted buyers. Commenting on the same, Pearl Horeau, the President of the Uganda Tourism Association said that the expo will present an exciting opportunity for tourism private sector to network and develop their tourism and travel business directly.
“As private sector, we are positive about the potential business that POATE will bring to Uganda. The focus on the African market is a step in the right direction as the continent provides a number of opportunities for intra-travel trade evidenced by the number of African tourists coming to Uganda and other countries.” Horeau said. Uganda tourist arrivals at a glance 2019 In terms of arrivals, Uganda’s international tourism performance in 2018 was above the rate of continental and global tourism growth.