Some of the senior officials on Uganda's delegation to Mombasa

More than 200 Ugandan private and public sector players are in Mombasa, Kenya for the 2nd Uganda-Kenya Coast Tourism Conference 2023.

The conference that starts today (November 13) at the Diani Reef Beach Resort is organised by the Consulate General of Uganda in Mombasa, the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) as well as tourism stakeholders in Uganda and Kenya.

From November 22 to December 1, Uganda will also host the Kenyan delegation to a series of familiarisation trips to various Ugandan destinations and experiences.

The Business to Business (B2B) Conference which runs under the theme: “Consolidating Networks, Synergies & Diversity to maximise the tourism potential between Uganda and Kenya Coastal Region”, offers opportunities for tourism players in both countries to meet
and explore joint business opportunities.

Explaining the strategic importance of the conference to both countries, John Mulimba, the minister of state for Foreign Affairs said that Uganda and Kenya already enjoy mutual brisk business, including tourism and therefore this conference will both consolidate and accelerate the volume and value of this business relationship.

“Uganda is Kenya’s second biggest source market for tourists. In 2022, 150,900 Ugandans visited Kenya. Out of these, 22,200 visited the Kenyan Coast, up from 10,100 in 2021. Likewise, Kenya is Uganda’s leading source market for tourists. In 2022, 376,294 Kenyans visited Uganda, an increase of over 40,000 tourists from the 326,387 Kenyans tourists who visited Uganda in 2021. The increasing interest for Kenyans to visit Uganda is mainly due to various events that take place in Uganda such as Golf and Rugby tournaments, festivals, and music concerts among others. For Ugandans, the main reasons for visiting Kenya Coast are: to enjoy the beaches and the coastal scenery and features; attend
meetings and also for education purposes. There is also a growing number of Ugandans who visit Kenya Coast to have their wedding parties or spend their honeymoon at some to of the coastal hotels,” Mulimba, noted.

Expounding further on the conference’s objectives, Uganda’s Consul General in Mombasa, Amb. Paul Mukumbya, said the conference is also, among other objectives aimed at creating more awareness about the two destinations and the tourism products they offer as well as enhance the synergies and complementarity between key tourism players from Uganda and the Kenya coastal region.

On his part, Bahinduka Mugarra Martin, the minister of state for Tourism said regional travel has always been a key driver of tourism in East Africa but has largely been reliant on East African residents and citizens.

“Given the proximity to each other and the increasingly better connectivity between our countries- Uganda Airlines- now flies twice daily to Nairobi,
and thrice on Fridays, as well thrice to Mombasa. Extending regional travel to include foreign visitors will certainly add value to both our countries, as well as create better and unforgettable experiences for our visitors, hence increasing their likelihood of returning as well as recommending our two destinations,” he said.

Herbert Byaruhanga, the COUTA president welcomed the conference and said that it fits well, within the industry’s desire to grow both the volume and value of tourism to the region.

“Both our destinations- the Kenyan Coast and Uganda have something unique to offer to visitors. Consolidating this complementarity will not only enhance the value proposition and visitor experiences but will in medium to long term increase both the number of visitors, the length of stay and expenditure,” Byaruhanga said.

Stephen Asiimwe, the Chief Executive Officer of PSFU, also welcomed the conference as a stitch in time saying the tourism industry is one of Uganda’s most strategic sectors, creating livelihoods for about 998,876 establishments- both formal and informal.