By Najib Mulema
This month is not going to be like any other February as it has one of the biggest tourism events in the East African region.
The highly anticipated Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo (POATE) is back in style. Already people are going around the country having adventure and experiencing Uganda, many for the first time.
The expo is set to take place at Kampala Sheraton Hotel and it will run for three days from 17 to 19 February, 2017.
This is going to be the third edition of the tourism expo. The first one was in 2014, second edition in 2015 and in 2016 the event never transpired.
According to Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) CEO Stephen Asiimwe, in this years’ edition UTB is going to bring in over 100 foreign exhibitors who will exhibit alongside Ugandans who deal in tourism related products.
Asiimwe also assured that tourism boards from other countries and tour companies are also going to take part in the three day event.
UTB has also gone an extra mile to bring in a group of hosted buyers who sell tourism products and destinations in different countries and they are already in the country touring various tourists attractions like Kidepo National park, Bwindi Impenetrable forest park, Murchison Falls national park among others.
The board also invited several media people from foreign media houses to cover the whole event and cover the country’s attractions.
This time round UTB has taken those spectacular steps to promote the tourism industry and Uganda as a whole.
During an organized three day exhibition, each day will have different transpiring activities which among others will include conferences, cultural nights.
Among the opportunities which must not be missed will be Business to Business (B2B) which shall enable local exhibitors to get in touch with foreign exhibitors with the main aim of making commercial transactions.
The climax of the event will be the Tourism Excellence Awards to honour best performers in the tourism industry.
Why is tourism important to Uganda?
First, tourism as a sector contributes 10 percent to Uganda’s GDP. Inspite of being poorly facilitated, the sector has made tremendous contributions to the country’s economy making it increasingly important regarding investments and job creation.
Tourism also contributes 23 percent of Uganda’s export revenue.
So the more we continue marketing tourism,, it will take Uganda’s tourism notch higher as some people say may call it a ‘hot potato’.
Apparently, many people look at Uganda as a virgin tourism market which has a lot to explore. People have toured various countries like Kenyan, Tanzania and have almost exhausted everything so Uganda is the remaining country which has got a lot to offer as long as tourism is concerned.
All tourism clusters/tourism destinations shall be exhibited during the three day event.
UTB also has invited many schools around the country to be part of the exhibition.
To attend the exhibition you don’t need to pay an penny but if you want to exhibit you are demanded to pay shs500,000.
Every night there shall be different themed music to enable tourists feel the moment.
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