In its effort to lift the country’s tourism numbers, government has embarked on searching for international public relations and marketing companies to promote Uganda in emerging markets.
According to information from Uganda Tourism Board (UTB), the government’s tourism promotional agency, the emerging markets they are eying in addition to traditional markets are: China, the Gulf States, Japan and the Nordic countries.
In an interview with Prosper Magazine, UTB’s chief executive officer Stephen Asiimwe said: “We have asked for more resources to bring on board new PR companies to promote Uganda in the emerging markets.”
At least Shs6 billion has already been requested for from the government to assist the new marketing and PR companies plus the first five which were hired two years ago to promote Uganda in the traditional markets.
Mr Asiimwe said they are also renewing the terms of reference for the first firms whose contracts had expired.
“Once this is done, the first firms mainly PHG Consulting for the North America market, Kamageo for the United Kingdom (UK) and Ireland; and KPRN for the German speaking Europe will continue marketing Uganda in these respective markets,” Mr Asiimwe said.
Mr Geoffrey Baluku, a tourism consultant, advised that UTB should ensure that these firms include tour operators, travel agents, airlines and transportation providers in their programmes if they are to understand Uganda’s tourism offer and how they can sell it to their clientele.
“PR and Marketing firms can only market and promote what we have. We shouldn’t expect them to re-create imaginary things,” he added.
He said to achieve this, Uganda needs identify a brand that can sell the country.
Experts in the tourism industry say, if Uganda attracts visitors from China, this will boost the numbers, revenues will increase and jobs will be created.
Responding to this development, Mr Boniface Byamukama, the chairman East African Tourism Platform – the regional tourism private sector apex body applauded the initiative.
However, he said: “Focus should be put on China and India because they have the numbers and that is what we want to grow tourism in Uganda and the region.”