Kampala — Uganda's Ministry of Tourism has stated that the year 2017 is a year for tourism sector development hence tasking its tourism promotion and conservation agencies to initiate new ideas which will drive the sector for the next four years.
According to John Ssempebwa, the Deputy Executive Director of the Uganda Tourism Board, they have come up with new ideas especially in marketing, product development, research and quality assurance with a main of promoting the country's tourism sector both internationally and domestically.
"In 2017 we shall organize the Second Africa Birding Expo to showcase over 1000 species of birds seen in Uganda, an accolade which makes Uganda the only African country with most bird species," said Ssempebwa during a press conference in Kampala.
Under marketing, UTB will focus more on tourism products where the country has more comparative advantages like birding and mountain climbing.
"By the end of 2017 all Birding and Mountain Climbing Clubs from around the world will have known Uganda's birds and Mountains. This will be done through the birds and Mountain expos," he said.
Other marketing strategies which the tourism promotions agency intends to rely on include continued use of International Public Relations firms, foreign mission to market the country's Tourism potential and attending International expos. He said all these strategies, if well implemented, will bring in more visitor's to the country.
Uganda recently contracted public relations firms to market Uganda in the United Kingdom and Germany. According to Ssempebwa, by end of 2017 the total number of visitors from the two countries is expected to increase.
"The number of tourists visiting Uganda from these countries is expected to increase by at least 35,000 this year. We shall continue to host more persons from the targeted source markets, person that we can work with to tell our stories to the world," he said.
On domestic Tourism Marketing Uganda Tourism Board will engage in school outreach programmes where they expect to reach out to very many schools and Educational institutions to create and maintain tourism clubs while creating more. On product development, Ssempebwa promised more Tourism products such as Religious Tourism, Cultural tourism and other products.
Uganda Wildlife Authority officials, Uganda's top conservation body, said they have put in place infrastructures that support the development of Tourism industry in 2017. Charles Tumwesigye Director Conservation at UWA said they plan to construct more accommodation facilities in National parks by expanding the accommodation capacity in Kidepo National Park, Lake Mburo and Murchison Falls National Park.
"UWA has given concessions to four private developers to put accommodation facilities in Kidepo Valley and Lake Mburo National Park.
The concession process for accommodation facilities in Murchison falls and Queen Elizabeth National parks is in advanced procurement stage. These initiatives will increase affordable accommodation in the parks which is still big challenge currently," said Tumwesigye. On easing Transport to support domestic Tourism UWA plans to procure five Tourism buses which will be dedicated to taking tourists to the national parks of Murchison Falls, Queen Elizabeth and others. Tumwesigye said Transport is still a big challenge affecting the development of Domestic tourism in the country.
Declaring 2017 as year for Tourism Development the Minister of Tourism Ephraim Kamuntu said the Ministry is committed to support all Initiatives that are developed with the Intention of driving the sector.
Kamuntu said the tourism sector is among the 23 sectors which the president wants to be promoted because of its capacity to create more jobs in the Economy.
Uganda was recently recognized by Rough Guides a leading travel publisher in the UK as the country being globe and number 1 in Africa as among the top ten leading destinations to be visited in 2017. The country also in2012 was named top tourism destination by lonely planet with Kidepo Valley National Game Park as one of the best wild places
Caption: Uganda's Ministers of Tourism Ephraim Kamuntu (M), Godfrey Kiwanda Minister of state for Tourism (R) and Boniface Byamukama (L) from the Association of Uganda Tour Operators hold a placard that declares 2017 a tourism year in Uganda and as the year for tourism industry development.