KAMPALA – Uganda Tourism Board (UTB), the Government of Uganda’s marketing and regulatory agency has clarified the ‘false and inaccurate claims by the Uganda Tourism Association’s incoming President regarding the development process and the launch of Uganda tourism destination brand scheduled for Friday, 21st January 2022.
The 19th January 2022 statement by the Uganda Tourism Associations (UTA), amongst other claims, alleges that the association was not engaged and consulted during both the development of the brand as well as the organisation of the event leading to the launch.
Besides these allegations, the statement, however, raises legitimate concerns about the negative impact that the two-year Covid-19 pandemic has had on the sector. The statement also expresses concern on what it says is the absence of a government stimulus package to the sector and that this has had a big impact on its membership.
For these and other reasons, the statement by UTA President says UTA members will boycott the planned Destination Brand launch event.
“While UTB fully appreciates the plight of the tourism sector and has previously worked and continues to engage the entire public and private tourism stakeholder base to find a sustainable solution to sector challenges, UTB is shocked that the new leadership of UTA is attempting, at the last minute to mislead its membership about one of the most strategic government interventions into restarting and rebuilding the tourism sector.”
“We are also concerned that the new team of UTA is being deliberately dishonest to their membership over the extensive consultative process that UTB has had with the various UTA leaders over the last two years that it has taken to develop and subsequently ready this new brand for launch.”
UTB clarifies as follows;
i) First of all, UTB fully appreciates both the role of the private sector and the resilience that they have exhibited over the last two very difficult years. We are committed to continuing working with the private sector to recover from the impact of the pandemic and restore pre-pandemic growth levels.
ii) The launch of the Destination Brand and the robust domestic and global marketing efforts to follow the launch is just one of the many initiatives being funded by the government of Uganda to stimulate demand from both existing and new markets, to drive faster recovery of the sector. In all our engagement with various other government players, engagements where the private sector has been represented directly and at the UTB Board, we have received assurances that tourism is one of the top priority sectors, within the available resource envelope.
iii) It is not true that the process of developing the destination brand was not consultative. From February 2020 when the rebranding process started, there has been extensive consultation with all key public and private stakeholders. iv) At the very start of the process, there was a stakeholder survey done to understand the views of our stakeholders about the current marketing efforts with over 300 respondents, out of whom 80% were drawn from the private sector.
iv) One of the major decision-making platforms in this process was a 26-member National Brand Steering Committee that was made up of the public and private sector, media and academia. The committee was chaired by renowned private sector leader and hospitality entrepreneur, Mr Patrick Bitature. At the various development stages, there were 6 consultative meetings with the National Steering Committee for their input.
v) To ensure the input of the Uganda Tourism Association from the start, the UTB CEO wrote to UTA asking them to nominate a member to the Steering Committee and on 5th April 2020, the Chief Executive Officer of UTA, Mr. Richard Kawere responded, nominating Mr Ntege Dennis, the Director Raft Uganda. The then UTA President was copied on the siad email. A formal appointment to the Brand Steering Committee was confirmed by the UTB CEO’s office on 13th October 2020. Since then, Mr. Ntege was adopted onto the committee and the process has benefitted greatly from his over 15 years of experience in the tourism sector. The Steering Committee among many other roles was responsible for approving the Brand Manual, which is the heart and soul of the new brand.
vi) Over and above the 6 meetings, held by the Steering Committee, there were also other key meetings with the Board of Directors of UTB, top management of the Ministry of Tourism Wildlife & Antiquities, Staff of UTB and Uganda’s Foreign Missions.
vii) On 24th August 2021, the Board wrote to the UTA requesting for the nomination of 15 members of its association to attend the Pearl of Africa Brand consultative meeting on 26th August 2021 at the Kampala Serena Hotel – Addis Hall at 9:00 am. The meeting was attended by:
- Ms. Pearl Hoareau Kakooza, the then President, UTA
- Mr. Richard Kawere, Chief Executive Officer, UTA
- Ms. Civy Tumusiime, the Chairperson, Association of Uganda Tour Operators (AUTO)
- Ms Marinka Sanc George, Board Member, AUTO
- Mr. Denis Ntege (UTA)
- Ms. Sylvia Ntabaazi, Uganda Hotel Owners Association (UHOA)
- Mr. Peter Mwanja, Association Of Uganda Conference and Incentive
- Ms. Nancy Okwong (AUTO)
- Ms. Sarah Kyerere (Association of Uganda Women in Tourism Trade (AUWOTT)
- Mr. Timothy Senkandwa, National Arts & Cultural Crafts Association of Uganda (NACCAU)
- Mr. Nicholas Kalyango, Ugandan Association of Travel Agents (TUGATA)
- Ms. Monalisa Aman (TUGATA)
- Mr. Brian Tuhaise, General Secretary, Uganda Safari Guides Association (USAGA)
- Mr. Bonny Ongom, Chief Executive Officer, USAGA
- Mr. Charles Oundo, Vice President, Hotel General Managers Association of Uganda (HOGMAU)
viii) At the meeting, TBWA the branding and marketing agency presented to the private sector players, the new destination brand for their review and input. The heavenly engaging meeting raised a number of important industry and market insights that were incorporated in the brand based on their merit, just like hundreds of other insights received in the 2-year process.
ix) Following the inputs of all these stakeholders, the new brand was presented to the President of the Republic of Uganda on 15th September 2021, at Statehouse, Nakasero. Following the presentation and securing the approval of the president, preparations for launch and rolling out of the brand to domestic and international audiences started in earnest.