Uganda Tourism bodies have joined hands to aggressively market the country ahead of the opening of the Common Market.
According to the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Tourism, Trade and Industry, Mr Julius Onen, the 14 member committee was formed as part of the Public-Private Partnership initiative aimed at developing a tourism web portal to promote Uganda to the outside world.
“Since we are gifted with numerous tourist attraction sites, we are yet to exploit these resources and market them effectively,” Mr Onen said.
The portal would enable Uganda to market itself and compete with other East African countries because information would be easily accessible to potential tourists, according to Mr Onen.
The committee comprising of members from eight institutions representing private and public stakeholders in the tourism industry is expected to finalize a draft report including developing a structure of the portal in two months time.
“We have to adhere to a strict time frame if we are to compete with countries like Kenya and Rwanda, which spend a lot of resources marketing themselves which in return makes us lose out on business because most of the time people are unaware of what we have to offer,” he said.
With the opening of the EAC Common Market and with the entry of a single tourist visa, competition will be tight meaning that if Uganda is to out-compete it’s neighbors who are at the moment doing better, the country needs to be marketed extensively by providing the necessary information and giving incentives to people interested in developing tourism.
At the same function, it was revealed that vehicles meant for tourism development are now exempted from paying taxes. As the second foreign exchange earner for the country, the tourism industry is slowly recovering from the effects of last year’s financial crisis. In 2008, growth in tourist arrivals was down to 8 per cent, compared to a 19 per cent increase in 2007.
Over the last few years, the government has been looking for ways to project a positive image of the country’s natural resources and cultural heritage with the web portal been one of them.
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