Uganda has been ranked the sixth most popular destination in Africa for hosting international conferences and events in the 2019 statistics report released by the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA).
ICCA represents the world’s leading association for the global meetings, conference and events industry.
The rank is a four-point advancement from the 2018 report where Uganda ranked 10th.
The rankings are based on the number of association meetings taking place regularly, rotating between at least three different countries and with 50 participants.
Uganda has over the last 5 years ranked consistently in the top 10 African destinations for hosting international conferences and events.
According to the Uganda Tourism Board CEO, Lilly Ajarova, Uganda in 2019 hosted 22 association meetings including the 64th Commonwealth Parliamentarians Conference, 8th African Population Conference, Africa Now Summit, 4th African Judicial Dialogue and the second Congress of the African Primatological Conference.
She explained that all these conferences attracted a variance of domestic, regional and international visitors and contributed to the rankings that currently place Uganda as a top
meeting and events destination in Africa.
“In 2020, Uganda had organised and was scheduled to host a number of notable conferences and meetings that had to be rescheduled due to the Covid-19 pandemic,”Ajarova explained
She mentioned the G77 summit, Africa Climate week, World Health Summit, CBR World Congress and the AfrAA Conference among the international meetings and conferences that were scheduled to be hosted in Uganda.
According to Ajarova, all is not lost because many of these conferences have been rescheduled to take place in 2021 pending confirmation of the dates as the pandemic is examined and travel restrictions reviewed.
“As Uganda continues to grow its Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions(MICE) industry, the next few years will see our association meetings increase as the world normalizes in the post-Covid-19 era,” Ajarova noted.
The Uganda Tourism Board recently started an initiative to tap into international conferences held in the country in a bid to increase the number of people visiting the country’s tourist attractions.
“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,” Bradford Ochieng, the Deputy Chief Executive Officer for UTB said last year.
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.
UTB hopes to tap into the rebirth of the Uganda Airlines to ensure visitors to Uganda can have direct and convenient flights to Entebbe.
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.
Uganda is home to more than half the world’s population of endangered mountain gorillas, and trekking to observe these gentle giants in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is one of the world’s top bucket list travel activities.
Safari opportunities abound in savanna, forest, and wetland settings throughout 10 national parks, where visitors can come face to face with “The Big Five” – lion, leopard, rhino, elephant, and buffalo – as well as giraffe, zebra, chimpanzee, hippopotamus, crocodile, and more than half of all bird species found in Africa.