Uganda is set to get a new tourism brand, which fully defines what Uganda offers in terms of tourist attractions and activities. Since the visit of Church hill Winston, Uganda has been known as the “pearl of Africa” for tourism branding. However, the brand “pearl of Africa” seems to have not fully defined what Uganda is capable of offering in terms of tourism attractions and activities. Uganda government in collaborating with all tourism bodies has decided to create a new Brand for Uganda’s tourism. A professional tourism consultant has already been procured to develop new brands that will extensively tell the whole world about Uganda’s tourism. The new brand is hoped to be completed by the end of 2019 and will be launched officially by Uganda ministry of tourism, Wildlife antiquities together with the government. Different taglines among which is “gifted by nature” have been raised and are still being discussed to come up with the best brand that will out compete other African countries in the world travel market. At the end of this year (2019), the new brand will be massively launched in local and international tourism markets. The new brand will be made known to people through activations in schools, social networks, communication channels, hospitals and all other government agencies as soon as possible. The new brand is aimed at outcompeting other tourism destinations in Africa setting Uganda as a premier travel destination to visit.
About tourism marketing in Uganda
Unlike in the past when marketing was not a priority, Uganda Tourism Board and the government are now intensively marketing tourism products all over the world. The government has further funded sustainable engagement of Market destination representation (MDR) firms and market activations in target markets. More so in 2018, Uganda Tourism Board commissioned six firms in the core markets of United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Ireland, United States, and Switzerland. Also Uganda tourism is blessed to see new emerging markets of China, Japan and Arab States, which will obviously increase tourism market of Uganda.
Uganda Tourism Board has already achieved lots of benefits from her extensive marketing. Uganda has seen an increased number of leisure travelers from America and other European countries. Since 2016, Uganda leisure tourist numbers has increased by 10 %. Also, tourist arrivals to Uganda national parks have also increased by 10%, which is a great achievement. The 2018 Uganda tourism statistics indicate that 1.57 million tourists visited Uganda in 2018 an increase from 1.37, million travelers in 2015. Tourist arrival to Uganda therefore increased by 18% in 2018.
In addition to increased tourist numbers, Uganda foreign revenue has also increased over time. In 2018, Uganda earned increased revenue of USD1.63bn from USD 1.37bn in the previous year. This was a 19% revenue increase hence and improved gross domestic product. The increased revenue is due to the bigger tourist expenditure by 32% especially by travelers visiting natural cultural sites.
In terms of employment opportunities, tourism is currently a major source of employment for most Ugandans. Employment is both direct and indirectly, which has improved their standards of living of people. In 2018, over 628,000 people were employed in tourism compared to 504,000 in 2015/16. In general, Job opportunities in tourism industry have increased by 25% giving Ugandans a descent life. People work as travel operators, guides, porters, and service providers in lodges, hotels and travel companies.
Tourism diversification in Uganda
Much as most travelers know Uganda for mountain gorillas and chimpanzees, the country offers much more than that. Uganda wildlife authority and Uganda tourism board has done great to diversify tourism products in Uganda to extend travelers stay and expenditure in Uganda. Among the new products that have created include among others:
• Batwa forest experience
Travelers to Bwindi forest have been added a Batwa forest experience in addition to mountain gorillas. Travelers can visit Batwa communities in the boundaries of the park for cultural encounters. A visit to Batwa reward travelers with first hand information about Batwa and their initial forest life. Batwa forest experience is one way of supporting Batwa pygmies who were evicted from the forest.
• Zip lining and new information center has been established at Kisizi falls in Rukungiri district. Mores till, the government has introduced trails, ladders and resting points in Mt Ruwenzori which give travel a relaxed and memorable hiking experience.
• Five buses have been also introduced to ease movements within Kampala city connecting to national parks and other tourist spots in far away areas. Also, 3 modern tourist launch boats have been introduced to Lake Mburo, Murchison falls and Kazinga channel.
• The revival of Uganda airlines after 11 years of no operations is a great achievement. 2 Bombardier CRJ900 have so far been received and two more are expected to arrive in July 2019. The revival of Uganda airlines will ease movement of travelers to, and within Uganda to save time for short time travelers.
Among the challenges still facing Uganda tourism sector include multiple taxation that affect the progress of tour operators and human wildlife conflicts common in national parks.
Tourism is the fastest growing industry in Uganda. Rebranding Uganda tagline, extensive marketing and new product development will together make Uganda the leading tourism destination