- Posted by Nelson Tumwesigye
- On August 8, 2014
- 0 Comments
As the East African states continue to promote the region as a single tourism destination, there is still need for individual countries’ efforts to promote their own destinations. The Uganda Tourism Board continues to urge parliament to increase on the budget funding for the tourism ministry in order to favorably compete with other regional states.
The head of marketing department in UTB, Edwin Muzahura attributed Uganda’s weak performance in the global market to under funding by government. He pointed out that while Kenya allocated $35m to the tourism sector, Rwanda allocated $17m to its tourism sector but amazingly Uganda allocated only $700000 in this financial year.
However much Uganda almost beats the sister states in terms of natural endowment, there is need to communicate these endowments to potential buyers (tourists) if the country is to improve its tourism sector which is now one of the fastest growing and high income earners for the country’s GDP. This makes the sector the only hope to drive the country out of poverty and therefore needs serious attention.
Muzahura further noted that the promotion of Uganda as a tourist destination is not solely for the government alone but also the citizens have a pivotal role to play. He advised that Ugandan products should be supported and given enough market locally and internationally. While quoting the examples of Ghana, South Africa and Kenya having their traditional products like food stuffs in the supermarkets of UK and USA, Uganda has almost nothing to communicate its name in such countries which are big potentials for the tourism market. He urged Ugandans to love their country and produce quality goods which will act as a brand in foreign nations hence marketing the country.
With the current terror threats, affecting Kenya, Uganda would be a perfect replacement for travelers especially interested in wildlife and culture since its security has been stable for a decade. There is need for Uganda to put good strategies to market itself on the international market. For example putting billboards at train stations of these developed countries showing the Mountain Gorilla, the Snow capped Rwenzori, The world’s largest Caldera at Elgon, the hardest waterfalls at Murchison or the white water rafting adventure along the Nile, would surely increase tourists’ numbers. Alternatively, having quality authentic goods identifying our culture, like a traditional dish, coffee, or attire purely Ugandan in the markets of Europe and the USA, would make Uganda known and would increase on the tourism demand.
This has already worked for Kenya and South Africa whose vegetable fruits are exported with their stickers and sold in the British supermarkets as well as for Ghana’s cocoa in the world over. It is no wonder that despite internal challenges, these nations have always led in the tourism earnings in Africa. Uganda grows a number of delicious and unique foods which would compete favorably on the international market. Talk of Bananas, oranges, pineapples as well as milk that is in plenty, surely Uganda has been sitting on its potential and needs to improve on the packaging of these products to gain a brand on the international market.
For a destination/ country to gain international recognition and attract tourists, it is paramount to have a brand. For example, where as Japan is known for its technology prowess, Kenya is popular for its historical Mombasa port, wide game reserves and the Masai culture, as South Africa is branded for its table mountain, Nelson Mandela and Kruger National park while Uganda is ‘lost’ in mid air.
Since Tourism is the hope to lead the country into another economic stage, its high time Uganda identified its brand and marketed it vigorously on the international market, on the streets and train stations in the developed world to create more awareness about its existence and endowment.