By David Mafabi
Kampala — More Shs5 billion has been spent on three global public relations firms to market Uganda’s tourism potential as the government works to meet President Museveni’s goal of four million tourists annually by 2020.
Uganda Tourism Board marketing manager Edwin Muzahura yesterday named PR firms as PHG Consulting for the North America market, Kamageo for the United Kingdom and Ireland; and KPRN for German–speaking Europe.
“We have hired three PR firms to do the promotion and marketing of Uganda tourism sites at a total cost of Shs5,406,000,000 for a year in a five-year project and the money was provided by World Bank under the World Competitive Enterprise Development Project,” said Mr Muzahura.
Yesterday, Tourism minister Ephraim Kamuntu revealed that the President had instructed Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) to grow the number of tourists entering the country from 1.3 million now to four million visitors by 2020.
He said UTB’s plan to raise the numbers of tourist arrivals will generate revenue and expand employment opportunities. The minister observed that it was possible to see early returns from the public relations venture in Berlin, Germany where the most recent World Tourism Expo was held.
“The purpose is to popularise Uganda’s existing and new tourism products and services in order to increase their visibility and attract more tourists and therefore more foreign exchange for transforming our economy from being predominantly peasant to a middle income economy,” said Mr Kamuntu.
He said the government’s ongoing heavy investment in major infrastructure projects such as connecting roads and highways ties in with the effort to ease access to tourism sites.
Speaking about Uganda’s participation at the tourism expo March 8- 12, Mr Muzahura said the country was the fifth best exhibitor in Africa. “Next time we shall improve. I want to make an appeal to you journalists; please market your country at home to promote domestic tourism,” said Mr Muzahura.
Yesterday, UTB chief executive officer Stephen Asiimwe noted that with 10 per cent contribution to Uganda’s Gross Domestic, tourism will directly impact on development and employment in Uganda as the country works to attain middle income status.
Several campaigns have been conducted in the recent past to showcase Uganda’s tourism potential. In 2005, the ‘Gifted by Nature’ campaign sought to jerk Uganda’s ‘tourism sector into a revenue stream. It was soon followed by the ‘Friend a Gorilla Campaign’ in 2009, and a series of other campaigns, including ‘Seven Wonders’ in 2011 and ‘My Uganda’ in April 2012. But many of the initiatives have been undermined by bad publicity stemming from the volatile security situation in the tourist-pulling Rwenzori sub-region, plus unstable political situation and heightened corruption, among others.