Uganda is planning to deploy three public relations firms in China, Japan and the Gulf states in a bid to sell it’s tourism opportunities.
This will be in addition to other firms in the UK, US and German speaking countries that have been promoting Uganda’s tourism to potential tourists.
Speaking during the tourism sector review in Kampala last week, Prof Ephraim Kamuntu, the tourism minister, said government has so far spent $1.5 million and the impact has already been registered.
“With the Americas, the increase in tourist arrivals is 17 per cent. That is why we are increasing the number from three to six public relations firms.
"About 130 million Chinese go out as tourists so what if we got 1 per cent coming here? Japan too and Gulf states such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi, have people who have money to spend,” he said.
Tourism has grown to become Uganda’s largest foreign exchange earner, raking in about $1.453 billion in 2017, according to data from the Ministry of Tourism.
The sector’s contribution to gross domestic product (GDP) has risen from 6.6 per cent in 2016 to 7.3 per cent in 2017.
However, private sector players warned during the review that government should first consolidate tourist numbers in the Americas before moving to other countries.
Mr Amos Wekesa, the Great Lakes Safaris founder, warned that government could expose local companies to unfair competition, especially from China in a bid to expand elsewhere.
“If you put money to market Uganda in China, you are helping Chinese to come here and make most of the money,” he said, arguing that government should first increase the spend in the three markets of UK, US and German speaking countries before deploying funds in emerging markets.
Participants also urged government during the review to move beyond marketing Uganda as a primate destination because it limits the country’s potential in other sectors.