Kampala — A contingent of over 20 people from the tourism industry returned last week from a week-long road show trip and expo in the Scandinavian countries.
The trip organized by Uganda's embassy in Denmark together with Uganda Tourism Board(UTB) and facilitated by SN Brussles, saw the contingent exhibiting in Gothenburg in Sweden, Copenhagen in Denmark, Oslo in Norway and the final leg in Brussels in Belgium.
The group comprised of officials from UTB led by its CEO, Mr. Stephen Asiimwe, SN Brussels's marketing manager Ms. Suzzane Othieno, Tour Operators led by the Association of Uganda Tour Operators (AUTO) chairman, Mr. Bonifence Byamukama, Uganda Wildlife Authority's Director Tourism and Business Services, Mr. Raymond Engena.
The week-long engagement included expos, road shows and a one-day Cultural and Tourism Forum held at Bella Center , Scandinavia's largest exhibition and conference center, in Copenhagen, near the border with Sweden.
In Copenhagen, the group was joined by The Director of Tourism at the ministry of Tourism, Ms. Grace Mbabazi Aulo who represented the minister, Members of Parliament for Kigulu North in Eastern Uganda, Mr. Edward Balidawa, who represented the Cultural Minister and Kampala Woman MP, Ms. Nabila Naggayi Ssempala. Others were the Director of Uganda's Hospitality, Tourism and Training Institute, Ms.
Uganda's ambassadors in Denmark and Belgium, Mr. Ambassador Mr. Wanume Kibedi Zaake, Ms. Mirjam Blaak respectively, said their embassies were committed to supporting trade, tourism and investment.
The Nordics and Benelux countries combined bring in over 30% of Uganda's tourism arrivals. "This is a great market and with concerted efforts and the right strategy, this number can grow," said Amb. Kibedi.
"We need more private sector engagement and with the promised increased funding for tourism, the sky is the limit for this beautiful and stunning destination," Amb. Blaak said.
Tourism in Uganda has continued grow in the last five years by 20%. Last year alone, the sector contributed 10% of GDP, the highest since the early 1970s before the Idi Amin era.
UTB CEO, Mr. Stephen Asiimwe said government had promised increased funding by over five times from last year's spending. He said the World Bank had also promised some resources that will go unto financing representation in source countries. "Our road shows and meetings in the Nordic countries and Brussles were very engaging and eye openers into the tourism business and environment. The business-to-business meetings were especially very educative for the audiences about Uganda's tourism products and potential.
"The Ugandan officials held meetings with groups from the hospitality training institutes, DANIDA business support agencies, transporters, hoteliers, airlines and tour operators. We also announced Uganda's hosting of the Africa Travel Association (ATA) congress due in Kampala in November from the 11-16 at Munyonyo Commonwealth Speke Resort," he said.
Since 2012, Uganda's embassies and foreign missions abroad have been tasked with promoting the country as a favorable investment, trade and tourism destination.