Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo to bring regional boards to Uganda

In a drive to showcase Uganda domestically and internationally, Uganda Tourism Board has launched the Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo that runs from the 17-19 November 2015. There crowning event is the Tourism Excellence Awards that recognize the role of different players in the tourism sector.

Addressing a press conference at Serena Kampala Hotel, Mr. James Tumusiime, the UTB Board Chairman, underscored the value of the expo to Uganda’s tourism businesses.

“The Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo gives you opportunity to meet new clients, suppliers, network, market and do business with regulators and business from other parts of Africa and beyond,” Tumusiime said. Present at the press conference were the heads of the Association of Uganda Tour Operators (AUTO), the Uganda Hotel Owners Association (UHOA), and the Uganda Wild Life Authority (UWA).

UTB has invited over 10 regional tourism regulators among them the tourism boards of Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Burundi, South Africa, Seychelles, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Botswana, Malawi, and Zambia. Participants at the expo will also get a familiarization tour around Uganda to see for themselves firsthand what the Pearl of Africa is about.

"In line with this year's theme of World Tourism Day, One Billion Tourists, One Billion Opportunities, the Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo is primarily focusing on increasing tourism traffic to Uganda with the intent of creating more opportunities especially in infrastructure development and job creation,” Tumusiime added.

Tourism Excellence Awards at the end of the expo will recognize the impact and value of private individuals and companies in promoting tourism over the years. Until 2014, Government financing to the tourism promotion was limited leaving the bulk of the promotions to the private sector. These awards are a way of recognizing that effort.

Over the last three years, tourism has been the top foreign exchange earner for Uganda beating remittances from abroad and tradition exports like coffee. It presently employs over 530,000 people.

The future looks up as the Government of Uganda invests more in infrastructure that supports tourism. More resources have been put into development of roads, and Entebbe International Airport, the main gateway, is being expanded even as plans to open another international airport in Kasese, Western Uganda, are in full gear.