The 5th Annual Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo (POATE) 2020 opened on Tuesday 04th Feb 2020, kicking off three days of business to business and business to customer engagements amongst key Ugandan and regional tourism players with selected tourism wholesalers from Africa and other overseas tourism markets.
POATE, which is taking place at the Speke Resort in Munyonyo, a on the shores of Lake Victoria, has attracted over 57 international hosted buyers, 140 domestic and regional tourism operators as well as international and domestic media.
The expo, is running under the theme, ‘Promoting Intra-Africa Travel’ in a bid to raise awareness about the untapped potential presented by emerging African travel markets. The Expo was officially opened today, by Rt. Hon. Gen (Rtd.) Moses Ali the First Deputy Prime Minister and Deputy Leader of Government Business in Parliament, on behalf of President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.
In a speech read for him by Rt. Hon. Moses Ali, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni thanked Uganda Tourism Board for Organising the Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo, saying that it would go a long way in “expanding business opportunities in the tourism sector in Uganda and the entire East African region.”
In his speech, president Museveni told the delegates to the Expo that Uganda had significantly invested in creating “peace and stability, good road networks, enough electricity supply, better telecommunications networks and internet” and these investments would enable Uganda’s tourism sector to be competitive.
“Without investment in this critical infrastructure, tourism cannot flourish,” he said, adding: “the government has restored Uganda Airlines to attract tourists to Uganda because the many planned direct routes to Uganda, tourists and business people alike will have faster and more affordable travel to Uganda, making us a competitive destination.”
President Museveni also commended UTB for the intra-African outlook saying that since the Ugandan government had “achieved commendable progress in addressing some of the strategic bottlenecks” which hindered Uganda’s prosperity, it was time to focus on intra-African business. “Africa has a big market of 1.2 billion people which we must exploit to our advantage by increasing intra-trade and intra-travel among us,” he said. Endless opportunities: Rich attractions portfolio, value for money and high return on investment.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Lilly Ajarova, the Chief Executive Officer of Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) told the delegates that Uganda was full of abundant tourism opportunities characterised by the richest tourism attractions portfolio, best value for money for investors and tourists alike and therefore healthy returns on investment.
“We have the richest and most diverse range of human, natural, cultural, religious and historical attractions complemented by a warm tropical climate, warm people, great accommodations and great food,” she said.
Ajarova, told the over 200 tourism business leaders from over 20 countries and 4 continents, that because Uganda has the “highest concentration of attractions over a smaller geographical area” where “tourists get to see more for less and there is something for everyone”, as a destination, Uganda offers the best value for money.”
She also said that the healthy growth in visitor arrivals coupled with a vast array of tourism assets presented big returns on tourism investment and that the recent government investments in transport infrastructure had made the country more accessible both from the outside and inland.
“It is now easier to get into Uganda by air from virtually anywhere around the world32,735 flights in and out of Uganda in FY18/19. With Uganda Airlines, there will be faster and more convenient direct routes especially from Africa. Today, it is also easier to get around by air, road and water,” she said.
Explaining the theme of POATE2020 and the special focus on Africa, Ajarova said that Africa’s economic prospects were on the rise and that the continent was emerging as one of the fastest growing tourism markets after Asia and the Pacific with outbound traffic reaching 42 million in 2018.
“The theme mirrors our strategy to rebalance and segment our tourism portfolio into 4 key segments, namely: existing overseas markets; emerging overseas markets; regional/African market and the domestic Ugandan market,” she said. Addressing the hosted buyers on why they should prioritise selling Destination Uganda, Ajarova said: “Do not settle for a bouquet of attractions when Uganda can give you and your clients a garden of attractions and endless opportunities for your businesses!”