The Uganda Tourism Board is set to tap into international conferences held in the country in a bid to increase the number of people visiting the country’s tourist attractions.
According to Bradford Ochieng, the Deputy Chief Executive Officer for UTB, in the past this “virgin” area had been ignored but noted it is high time they tapped into it.
“In the past Uganda has been hosting many international conferences where delegates fly into the country but leave without spending anything here because they are transported by the organisers from the airport and hotels booked for them,”Ochieng said on Wednesday during a media training on tourist reporting at Brovad Sands Lodge in Kalangala district.
“Right now, we want to entice them with our unique diverse and natural endowments so that if they come to attend the conferences, they can spend at least two days after the conferences to visit the tourism attractions.”
He said that Uganda Tourism Board will put in place convention centres that will be able to attract big international conferences that attract many delegates.
Through the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions(MICE) all government Ministries, Departments and Agencies would be tasked by UTB to provide a list of conferences that they would wish to either host or attend outside the country to allow for preparation and planning on how to sell Uganda as a top tourist destination.
“We are going to encourage government Ministries to host as many international conferences as possible through the Uganda Convention Bureau so that delegates can be lured into spending a little more time off the conferences to visit and see what we have to offer and this way, we shall earn some money from them.”
He said they are going to start with the Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference set for September in Kampala and will attract over 2000 delegates from various Commonwealth countries.
According to the Deputy UTB CEO, the number of tourists will increase through such an initiative noting that countries like South Africa have increased numbers of tourists because cities like Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town host many conferences at their convention centres.
Measuring 241,040 square kilometers, Uganda is also known as the Pearl of Africa due to its diverse natural endowments and is home to the largest collection of tribes (64) and dialects per square inch.
Uganda also controls 39% of Africa’s biodiversity whereas it also has 50% of Africa’s bird species and more birds than the entire North America.
According to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics, Uganda received 1.8 million tourists in 2018, up from 1.4 million in 2017.