Uganda urged to exploit unique selling point for tourism growth

In order to boost its tourism competitiveness internationally, Uganda has to capitalize on its unique culture.

This means it will have to identify experiences that tourists would only find here, Jim Dion, the business development associate of the National Geographic Maps, has said.

“Help us identify people, places and experiences most distinctive of your locale, those people, places and things that capture the region’s unique character and beauty,” he said on Thursday in Kampala.

Mr Dion said Uganda’s greatest asset is her character, which once developed would influence the quality of the people who visit.

Chris Seek, the President of Solimar International – an international tourism consultancy and marketing firm, said many foreign tourists thought more of South Africa and Kenya whenever they are considered of travelling to Sub-Saharan Africa.

“But these two are ‘too discovered,’” Mr Seek said, and that is why Uganda has to market its cultural aspect since its competitors are focusing on wildlife.

Messrs Dion and Seek are here to explore how Uganda could use partnership approaches to marketing the country internationally.

Presently, Uganda faces stiff competition from South Africa and Kenya, which not only boast of landscape and animal attractions that Uganda offers, but they go an extra mile by spending more on marketing abroad.

For instance, South Africa spent euros 44.8 million in 2005 whereas Kenya spent $6.4 million in early 2004 on marketing respectively. This resulted in an increase in foreign tourist arrivals in the two countries.

According to the Ministry of Tourism, Trade and Industry Website, 1, 084, 000 tourists visited Uganda 2009.

Mr. Chris added stakeholders in the tourism industry should use the partnerships approach to implement ‘integrated marketing campaigns’ – not just one little activity.

He said the private sector should lead while the government should provide an enabling legal framework.

He added that Uganda needs to reach out to international operators, use Internet marketing and social networking, domestic and international media outreach.

“When it comes to marketing, you cannot do it alone,” he said.

He adds that it needs to be private sector led, but government supported, and lastly that marketing Uganda needs an integrated approach “not just one little activity”.

Although Uganda has an amazing resource base; it is lagging behind its competitors in the region.

Compiled by Jackie

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