In a bid to promote tourism and position Uganda as a premier tourist destination, 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.

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 a 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”, aimed at raising Uganda’s profile as a preferred destination in the region and internationally. 

Launching the event, Hon, State Minister for Tourism Wildlife and Antiquities noted the board’s focus on Intra- Africa travel. He said, “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.”

The new logo for POATE, which seeks to raise the volume and value of African travellers to Uganda

According to the Tourism Sector Annual Performance Report FY2017/18), 80% of Uganda’s tourist arrivals are from Africa with Rwanda and Kenya sharing 31% and 24% respectively. Outbound tourism from Africa to the rest of the world, has been growing from 9.8 million in 1990 to 42.1million in 2017, according to UNWTO 2018 Tourism Highlights). Again, according to United Nations World Tourism Organisations (UNWTO), the largest majority of international travel takes place within travellers’ own regions (intraregional tourism)- 4 of 5 tourists travel within their own region. As such Africa remains a strategic tourist market for Uganda.

UTB Board Chairman, Hon Daudi Migereko was represented by Eddie Kirya who noted that POATE was 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 travellers on the continent.  

Hon. Minister Kiwanda Ssubi while having a toast with UTB staff and members of the press after the media launch of POATE

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, 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. 

UTB Head of Marketing, Claire Mugabi (left) and events guru, J Kazoora at the launch. UTB targets to increase the numbers of foreign arrivals from the current 1.3 million to 1.6 million by 2020 as well as increase the average expenditure by each foreign tourist from the current US$1,035 to US$1,500 by 2020 and hence; increase income from foreign tourists from the current US$1.4 billion to US$2.4 billion by 2020. Domestically, UTB aspires to increase numbers of domestic tourists from the current 649,831 to 786,295 by 2020 with each domestic tourist spending at least US$270 hence creating household incomes and earning the country an additional US$212 million.

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 tourist 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. 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 (+13.8%), the Americas (+9.2%), Asia (+10.2%) and the Middle East (+9.7%) in 2018. African land markets (regional and neighboring countries) that entered Uganda by road make up 69% of Uganda’s international arrivals, and grew by 6.1% in 2018.

Uganda Tourism Board officials at the launch

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 per cent of the total arrivals. 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.

It should be noted that POATE is 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.

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