Uganda is the home to over 50% of the world’s remaining Mountain Gorillas
ENTEBBE – It’s no doubt that 2021 has seen the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) double efforts to re-boost tourism having been one of the most hit sectors by the Coronavirus pandemic.
The move has seen the country’s destination marketing organization for destination Uganda among other things, partnering with an Arabic social media influencer and YouTuber Khalid Al Amere to promote the country’s tourism in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Mr Khalid, his wife Salama Mohamed and kids are in the country to attend their former house helper Sarah Nasanga’s wedding.
On September 11, 2020, Khalid and his family saw off Sarah who was their maid for six years in an emotional way.
In a video that went viral on social media, Khalid said that Sarah had become part of their family thus revealing that they would come and attend her wedding.
Speaking to the press at Entebbe International Airport on Tuesday evening, Ms. Claire Mugabi, the UTB Marketing Manager said that Sarah’s story was so emotional as the whole family (Khalid’s) was crying because of good things she had done to them and “for us that was so interesting.”
Mugabi said that having learnt that Khalid who has a following of over six million people on Facebook was coming to Uganda for Sarah’s wedding, they asked him to come earlier so he could visit the country and share his experience with his following.
“So we invited him to come to Uganda before the wedding so that we can take him around and see some of the things that make up the Pearl of Africa. So we’re taking him to Queen Elizabeth National Park, Bwindi to track Gorillas so that he uses his followers to further trade Uganda,” Ms. Mugabi said.
“As UTB, we want to work with Khalid to further consolidate our presence in the UAE market. UAE is one of the markets that we are currently targeting for tourism arrivals,” she added.
According to her, traditionally, Uganda has been focusing on North America which is The U.S. and Canada followed by UK and Ireland, and then Germany, Austria and Switzerland. She said that over time they have gone ahead to focus on new markets like the UAE, Japan and China.
“So we want to work with people like Khalid to further create visibility for destination Uganda.”
At the presser was also, CEO Grate Lakes Safaris Mr. Amos Wekesa who applauded UTB for getting Khalid saying that having such an influencer is “fantastic.”
“What he gonna write and what he gonna push online will stay for some time,” he said, adding that “I’m really hoping that UTB makes him Ugandan Tourism Ambassador.”
Mr. Wekesa pledged at most comfortability of Khalid’s family, saying that he will ensure that they use MV Kazinga which happens to be one of Uganda’s best boats and also use one of the best lodges in the country.
In his part. Mr. Khalid thanked Sarah for being such an incredible ambassador to her country.
“It’s an honour to be here to the Pearl of Africa. Thank you, Sarah. She represents you with at most respect, dignity, work ethic. Sarah didn’t work for the family; she was part of our family for six years,” he said.
He said, “Why I and Salama accepted this is because we understand the importance of tourism to an economy. So I said let me explore, let my wife and my kids lead me on the journey of Uganda and share that story with the world. We have nothing but a warm welcome to your country.”
According to Mugabi, Uganda was getting about 5000 visitors annually from UAE before Covid-19.
With the rollout of Covid-19 vaccine, Mugabi said they are hopeful and very confident that it is going to further build confidence in travel to Uganda.
ABOUT UGANDA TOURISM BOARD (UTB)
Created by the Tourism Act (2008), Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) is the official Government of Uganda’s destination marketing organization for Destination Uganda, the Pearl of Africa. UTB exists to sustainably promote Uganda as the most preferred and competitive destination for tourists and tourism investments in Africa. By working with stakeholders in the tourism sector to market Destination Uganda while encouraging investment, education, training and research as well as developing and monitoring standards in the tourism sector, UTB has since its inception, 13 years ago, grown the number of tourist arrivals by 78% from 844,000 in 2008/09 to 1,500,000 in 2018/19. This is slightly above global growth rates of 63% in the same period. As a result, sector foreign exchange earnings have nearly tripled, growing by more than 171%, from US$590 million to US$1.6 billion in the same period. Today the tourism industry, directly and indirectly, creates 667,600 jobs, 77% of whom are youth aged18-30 years and accounts for 7.7% of GDP.
By 2024/25 and barring for the effects of Covid-19, UTB plans to grow international tourist arrivals from the key source markets i.e., U.S., Europe and China from 210,000 to 500,000 tourists- a core element in increasing Uganda’s annual tourism revenues from US$1.6 billion to US$3.0 billion! This will increase the contribution of tourism to total employment from 6.3% to 10% which is equivalent to 433,000 new jobs or an increase from the current 667,600 jobs to 1,100,000 jobs. This will increase the total contribution of tourism to GDP from 7.7% to 9%.