The group had influential personalities in the tourism industry such as UTB CEO Stephen Asiimwe, Tourism and business director for Uganda wildlife authority Mr. Raymond Engena, SN Brussels’ marketing manager Ms. Suzanne Otheino, and tour operators led the chairman of the Association of Uganda tour operators, Mr. Boniface Byamukama. The group was joined by a few others in Copenhagen including; The Director of Tourism at the ministry of Tourism, Ms. Grace Mbabazi Aulo who represented the minister, Members of Parliament for Kigulu North in Eastern Uganda, Mr. Edward Balidawa, who represented the Cultural Minister and Kampala Woman MP, Ms. Nabila Naggayi Ssempala.
The organisers of this trip were the Uganda tourism board, together with the Uganda embassy in Denmark and SN Brussels. Together they made it possible for the group to travel to and exhibit in Gothenburg Sweden, Copenhagen in Denmark, Oslo in Norway and Brussels in Belgium.
The week-long engagement included expos, road shows and a one-day Cultural and Tourism Forum held at Bella Center, Scandinavia’s largest exhibition and conference center, in Copenhagen, near the border with Sweden.
The Benelux and Nordic countries contribute over 30% of revenue from the tourism industry in Uganda. Which means that the market is already there it just needs to be encouraged with more promotions such as the exhibits. According to Uganda’s ambassador to Denmark, Mr. Wanume Kibedi Zaake, the Nordic market can very easily grow with the right marketing strategies and concentrated efforts on growth.
Uganda’s ambassadors in Denmark and Belgium, Mr. Wanume Kibedi Zaake and Ms. Mirjam Blaak respectively, said their embassies were committed to supporting trade, tourism and investment. With more investment from the private sector in addition to the promised increased funding for tourism, Uganda is bound to grow and develop as a tourist destination. Uganda safaris and activities such as gorilla trekking are already in high demand, but this demand could increase greatly with all the right incentives. UTB CEO, Mr. Stephen Asiimwe said government had promised increased funding by over five times from last year’s spending. He said the World Bank had also promised some resources that will go unto financing representation in source countries.
Tourism in Uganda has grown by 20% in the last 5 years and contributes quite heavily to the country’s GDP. Last year alone, tourism contributed 10% to GDP. Investing in the tourism industry is therefore a worthwhile venture, because tourism in Uganda has a lot of potential that needs to be exploited.