Uganda is to host a global tourism show piece to showcase its abundant natural blessings to the world.
The Uganda International Tourism Expo will be held in November and will feature as one of the key events to the run up to the much anticipated visit of the pope in late November 2015.
Stephen Asiimwe, the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) chief executive said the event will also be significant because top global destination marketing firms will attend and have their first appreciation of marketing Uganda.
Uganda is considered as one of the most gifted global destinations but has been undersold for decades.
“We expect to conclude the process of signing the Destination Marketing Companies (DMCs) by end of August,” noted Asiimwe.
The Destination Marketing Companies will market Uganda’s pristine destination to the United States of America, United Kingdom, Canada and Germany as a starting point.
These countries have also predominantly been the major source of tourism arrivals in the last decades.
The expo will be climaxed with an awards ceremony to celebrate excellence in the tourism value chain.
President Yoweri Museveni is expected to attend the awards night.
Edwin Muzahura, UTB marketing manager said after consultations and soul searching, the industry agreed to have one signature event called the Tourism Excellence Awards that will celebrate and honour achievements in the entire value chain.
10 national tourism authorities in the region have confirmed participation among them Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Namibia according to Edwin Muzahura.
“We have benchmarked and this will be a top event that should showcase Uganda at its premium,” noted Muzahura.
Amos Wekesa, board member of UTB heading the marketing department called for more action saying it is time for Uganda to shine away from the usual rhetoric of potential.
Wekesa noted that the threat of political rhetoric over shadowing the tourism marketing looms large as Uganda heads into an election year.
Wekesa called for continuous marketing efforts so the limelight remains on a sector that is currently the largest source of foreign exchange earnings.
Several categories of people will be awarded including the accommodation service category, air operator of the year, travel agency, tourism media, tourism entertainment and a personality awards.
Tourism arrivals were hit in the last one year because of the Ebola epidemic that ravaged West Africa but affected almost the entire continent of Africa because the typical stereotype that Africa is one block country.
The other factors were the gay legislation and the regional terrorism attacks mostly in Kenya.