KAMPALA – Take on the Pearl with Love- the third phase of the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) domestic tourism campaign has ended amidst promising sector recovery, especially in the Hospitality Sector.
Take on the Pearl with Love, was launched in February 2021, to celebrate and encourage couples and families to ‘escape the Covid-19 fatigue’ and rekindle their relationship by exploring Uganda, The Pearl of Africa. Worldwide, the month of February is celebrated as the month of love.
The campaign is part of the larger, Take on the Pearl domestic tourism drive, launched in September 2020 by UTB, the Government of Uganda tourism marketing and recovery agency, to kickstart the tourism sector, that was reawakening from nearly 6 months of a Covid-19 induced shutdown.
The campaign was in December 2020 re-energised with a second phase focusing on mountaineering, led by the UTB Chief Executive Officer, Lilly Ajarova. She, between 11th and December 18th 2020, led a team of climbers on a 7-day fact-finding and documenting hike to Margherita Peak, Mt. Rwenzori’s highest point measuring 5,109 metres (16,762 ft)) tall. Some of the climbers on the team, included, celebrity, entertainer, champion kickboxer and actor, Moses Golola, and Joshua Cheptegei – the 5,000m world record holder and Commonwealth gold medallist, who did a part hike. The climbing team also included professional photographers for documenting the Rwenzoris as well as other Ugandan ardent nature lovers.
Take on the Pearl is being executed with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Uganda Country Office.
This last edition/trip of the Take on the Pearl with Love, which specifically focused on families, saw, one Raymond Okidi enjoy a fully paid trip to Ssese island with his wife, 2 daughters and 3 sisters. They were flagged off on 5th March 2021 from the Uganda Tourism Board offices amidst excitement and jubilations. The family was booked into Brovad Sands Hotel, Kalangala for a 3-day Easter weekend holiday.
“I cannot believe I’m on a ferry, this is my and my family’s first time to travel on water. Thanks to Uganda Tourism Board, we can do this. I will never forget this experience,” said Okidi while on a Ferry crossing to Kalangala from Masaka.
On the second day of the trip, the family took a guided nature forest walk by Gerald Mugisha, a renowned forest guide in Kalangala. The forest which sits on about 100 acres of land, also harbours the home for the legendary 19th Century explore, John Speke who discovered the Source of the Nile in Jinja.
“This is fascinating to see the actual walls of John Speke’s house after all these years that have passed. This is an experience to always remember, Ugandans should endeavour to come and see such historical marks that exist in our beautiful country,” said MrsOkidi.
From the Forest, the Family took a walk through the Ssese Wildlife Zoo that was guided by the Zoo Manager MrKalenziRodrique. The day was concluded by a boat cruise to the Virgin Island where the family enjoyed the beautiful scenery of the island and water.
The last day of the trip was a self-care experience that involved Sauna, Steam, Swimming, relaxing on the beach and kids’ entertainment. The Family had their Easter lunch accompanied by a live band for soothing music. Later, to wind up the day, the family was treated to a floating dinner and experience.
“When I was told about having a floating dinner, I did not understand what exactly it was. This is the highlight of the trip, the best way to end it. Again, thank you Uganda Tourism board for choosing my family and taking us on an adventure of a lifetime. We shall never forget this as long as we live,” Okidi said.
Ms. Claire Mugabi, the Marketing Manager – Uganda Tourism Board said,
Light at the end of the tunnel
Thanked all the Ugandans and the private sector players who had participated in the various domestic tourism drives under the Take on the Pearl campaign and said that the resilience exhibited by the private sector and the travelling public, with support from the government was beginning to pay off.
“Statistics released by the Policy Research and Planning Division of the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities (MTWA), show that although annual bed occupancy and room occupancy, as of December 2020 remained depressed- at 20.1% and 19.8% respectively, compared to 51.95% and 45.8% in 2019, the monthly analysis showed that there had been great improvement from May 2020, when the industry rates nearly ground to a halt,” she said.
Room occupancy is the percentage of available accommodation rooms that are occupied across a certain period, while bed space occupancy is the percentage of bed spaces that are occupied over a certain period. The two are important measures of profitability. Estimates from the Uganda Hotel Owners Association and the ministry say, for an average hotel to break even, it needs 40% occupancy levels.
“I am glad the travelling public especially the Ugandans, responded to our calls to travel and experience their country. I would also like to specially, appreciate our private sector who opened their doors and revised their rates to allow Ugandans to experience their country. If there is anyone who doubted the viability of domestic tourism as a segment of our tourism industry, this is proof that for the right pricing, domestic tourism is a strong complement to the foreign arrivals, which remain the mainstay of the industry for the foreseeable future,” she said.
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%.