Reknowm tourism enthusiast and brand Uganda promoter Amos Wekasa is currently in the United States of America. Apart from attending meetings at the annual United Stated Tour Operators Association (USTOA), Wekesa is marketing Uganda as usual.
An avid user of facebook, Wekesa took to social media to ‘tell’ Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) how best to market the Pearl of Africa.
Here is his post in full.
The annual estimated value of business the American tour operators who attend this meeting alone is USD 15 billion reason you see Kenya and Now Rwanda paying a lot of attention. Of course plus other many countries from around the world.
Every time, I return home from this particular gathering, I visit every office that matters in tourism to explain why we should take this meeting seriously. Of course, some people say ‘why is it you?’
OK, I attend, I observe, I learn and I share my experiences.
I also do not want to blame say Ministry of Finance or the President because we (many of us with me as chair) spent two years through PIRT fighting for a marketing budget of Uganda. In fact, I harassed ministry of Finance for marketing resources.
Resources for marketing were increased to about Shs15b from about Shs3b and unfortunately someone from UTB returned over Shs9b to Ministry of Finance I guess due to lack of knowledge of how marketing works or it was overwhelming. I don’t understand anyways.
I know some people are going to say Uganda’s tourism grew by 24.7 per cent and yes that is true and we can attribute that to PR firms who are continuing to showcase Uganda. But growing by 24.7 per cent of what numbers?
Rwenzori for example moved numbers from just over 900 to 4500 in one year. But that number is less than the number of tourists one person will handle climb the Kilimajaro alone. Remember Swai of Asante Safaris? I wrote about him.
Kilimanjaro does over 63,000 who climb to the top and many that do the foothills. An average climber spends over $3000 on a single climb. Rwenzoris are amongst the top best 15 hiking places in the world potentially according to NatGeo and only one on the list in Africa.
Yes Bwindi moved from about 50 per cent to 100 per cent almost in the high season but what does that mean? We have 19 gorilla groups and only eight people allowed per day. Now do the maths……still very small numbers if you compare to our neighbours. Kibale National Park went up by 600 tourists in one year but those also went to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
I also realize that as an individual, being here has very little impact and could have better impact if UTB, for example listened or tried to learn.
Finland for example set up side meeting with American tour operators here yesterday, flew in a Finish chef to prepare lunch for them and also brought in 27 Finish tour operators with capacity to make money.
What can Uganda Tourist Board do?
UTB can learn something from Kenya Tourist Board who are at the center stage this morning. They will be providing breakfast to the whole USTOA family and during breakfast, the minister will wow the guys here while showcasing videos of Kenya.
They have gathered their top tour operators here…..the American operators need people with high capacity. They will require people local operators with high insurance cover say of $5m dollars. One has to prove capacity.
It took us (Great lakes safaris) 13 years to prepare for this market and we are still learning by engagements like this. I am sure if UTB identified say 15 Ugandan operators with capacity and engaged these operators, Uganda would never be the same.
Instead of for example UTB returning over Shs9bn, they would spend say $100,000 during this period for setting side meetings like Finland or Kenya this morning. Part of that money would be used for a roadshow of not government people but business community. Select a very outspoken but knowledgeable speaker who would wow people here.
I see what happens here and I am like ‘Uganda can do this even better.’ Many countries would struggle showcasing the scenery kind of Uganda has and everybody here would love Uganda.
I hope making this public will make some people act. I promise to follow up this with proper write up and engagements. I will come to your offices again and hope you will listen and act.
Uganda needs money earned not loans which are going to sink us from Chin
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