As the world starts to recover from the effects of the pandemic and opening up borders and skies to global tourism, Uganda, has refreshed its tourism destination brand promise, with the unveiling of a new brand identity that promises both domestic, regional and global tourists, an adventure of a lifetime.
The brand identity—Explore Uganda, The Pearl of Africa, was unveiled on Friday, 21st January 2022, by the country’s president, H.E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni in Kampala, Uganda’s capital city. The president was assisted by Col. Rtd Tom Butime, Hon Martin Bahinduka Mugarra and Ms. Doreen Katusiime, the Cabinet, State Minister and Permanent Secretary for Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, respectively.
The Brand was developed by Uganda Tourism Board (UTB), Uganda’s tourism marketing and regulatory agency.
The Uganda Tourism Board Chief Executive Officer, Ms. Lilly Ajarova and her Deputy, Mr. Bradford Ochieng; and the Board Chairman, Hon. Daudi Migereko together with board members, hosted the unveiling, held at the Kololo Ceremonial Grounds.
Explaining the new brand promise, Ajarova, said that the new brand promise seeks to reemphasise Uganda’s rare and precious range of tourism attractions to the world, thereby earning destination Uganda competitive market share.
“Uganda is no doubt beautiful. Beautiful beyond measure. Yes, everyone knew that Uganda is and has always been the Pearl of Africa, – but there was a lack of clarity and consistency on, if Uganda is the Pearl of Africa- what pearls does it have to offer for each of the various travel segments and preferences,” she said, adding: “To win the marketplace; to achieve our Number One objective of “Sustainably Promoting Uganda as a Competitive Tourism Destination for Inclusive Development” it was therefore important that all stakeholders are aligned on what makes us the Pearl of Africa and how do we unpack that to the various travel markets/segments around the world.”
“Explore, Uganda the Pearl of Africa is an invitation to our tourists- both domestic, regional and international to rediscover the magnificence of the Pearl. We are promising and inviting them to Explore Uganda, The Pearl of Africa, for ADVENTURE OF THEIR LIFETIME,” she said.
Before the new brand, there were a number of campaigns by various stakeholders, most of which were built around “Visit Uganda” as a call to action, something that Ajarova says did not appropriately capture the uniqueness of Uganda’s attractions.
“If you think about it, when you invite someone to visit you, you are simply asking them to check on you, maybe for a few days. But an invitation to EXPLORE is really about inviting someone to indulge themselves. To spoil themselves; to delve into; to deep-dive; to discover and rediscover- the depth, range and variety of attractions in the pearl,” Ms Ajarova further explained.
Speaking at the launch, President Museveni urged beckoned the world to Explore Uganda, The Pearl of Africa saying that, the uniqueness of her attractions guaranteed a better experience and higher return on investment. He particularly extolled Uganda’s unique terrain, that made the country a “roof of Africa” where Lake Victoria sits, giving birth to the Mighty River Nile that flows through various Ugandan lakes on its way to Alexandria in Egypt.
He also highlighted Uganda’s abundant vegetation, temperate climate, variety of wildlife, strategic location on the Equator, cultural diversity, community tourism, peace and security, among others.
He also said, Uganda’s unique place in anthropogeny as the birthplace of humankind should be studied, documented and sold as a tourist attraction.
Mr. Museveni welcomed the new brand promise and recognized Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) for the imaginative repackaging of Uganda’s tourism value proposition.
“Uganda is a very nice place, but it needed a group to talk about it; to inform the world,” he said adding: “I am very happy with the new group headed by our daughter Ajarova…. I salute that group. You can see they are putting a lot of imagination into what they are doing.”
“I congratulate the board by led by Hon. Daudi Migereko (Chairman) and others. I also congratulate the Ministry, under Col. Rtd. Tom Butime,” he said.
REBUILDNG, RESTARTING TOURISM AND POSITIONING UGANDA AS THE MOST COMPETITIVE DESTINATION IN AFRICA
The rebranding is an essential component of UTB’s Strategic Plan (FY 2020/21 – 2024/25) that seeks to “Sustainably Promote Uganda as a Competitive Tourism Destination for Inclusive Development” with a strategic goal to “sustainably increase the volume and value of tourism in Uganda.”
Under this plan, UTB is pursuing 5 major objectives, namely:
- To Increase Tourist Arrivals
- To Increase Investment and Job Creation in The Tourism Sector
- Increase The Competitiveness of the Tourism Destination
- To Improve Collection and Access to Tourism Information
- To Improve Internal Efficiency and Effectiveness
From the above objectives, UTB, expects, by 2024/25 to work with all stakeholders to restart, rebuild and deliver to market tourism experiences that will help Uganda to:
- Recover from the impact of the pandemic that saw us lose up to USD1 billion in revenue in 2020, reach the pre-pandemic levels of USD 1.45 billion and grow that further to USD 1.862 billion
- Recover the contribution of tourism to total employment at 667,600 people (6.3% of total employment)
- Increase inbound tourism revenues per visitor from USD1,036 to USD1,500
- Recover the average number of International Tourist arrivals from the U.S, Europe, Middle East, China and Japan at 225,300 tourists
- Increase the proportion of leisure to total tourists from 20.1% to 30%
- Increase the number of direct flight routes to Europe and Asia from 6 to 30
Col Rtd. Tom Butime said that before the COVID-19 pandemic, tourism in Uganda was on a strong and positive trajectory, reading in Foreign Exchange earnings and accounting for 7.7% of GDP and about 6.3% of all formal employment in the country.
“The launch of the Brand is part of a response to the recovery after this dreadful pandemic. We are getting back into the market with a unified message and a clear promise and call to action. The launch of the Destination Brand is both vital to the restarting and rebuilding of the tourism sector as it provides a positive, recognizable and firm assurance of the beauty we radiate as a people and landscape of Uganda,” he said.
“The Destination Brand and the marketing activities that shall follow it are not in isolation. They complement other existing initiatives by the government to improve our product offering, improve the consumer experience and therefore widen opportunities for the private sector as well as quicken the pace of recovery. These measures, most of which are part of the Tourism Development Programme of the National Development Programme (NDP) III, include increased marketing efforts, the development of tourism infrastructure, addressing human-wildlife conflict and diversifying our product offer. There are also several initiatives being undertaken at the regional integration level, aimed at enhancing our competitiveness as a Destination,” added Butime.
He also underscored the need to help the Private Sector manage the financial burden through affordable financing options, expanding the marketing support campaign and developing competitive products on the world market.
Concerted stakeholder engagement
Hon. Migereko, the board chairman, thanked the national steering committee that was central to the development of the brand, led by Dr. Patrick Bitature, and reaffirmed UTB’s commitment to work with all stakeholders, to realise the full benefits of the renewed brand and the associated tourism marketing efforts.
“The launch of this destination brand is bound to benefit the entire country, provided after this launch all key stakeholders can consistently work hard to render our tourism products competitive and attractive; to enhance the image of destination Uganda; to scale up the quality of services and positive messages to give the brand its worth as well as improve the ease of doing business,” he said.
“It is going to be our duty at Uganda Tourism Board to ensure that we come up with requisite strategies and to reach out to all stakeholders both in and out of the Tourism value chain so that they can fully participate in this business but are also supported to register reasonable returns on whatever they invest,” he added.