By Lilly Ajarova
Numbers do not lie.
That Destination Uganda, the Pearl of Africa, is the most competitive tourism destination on the African continent, that is packed with the rarest, precious and most beautiful attractions and other tourism resources is a fact. More importantly, these resources are spread over an even smaller geographical area, which guarantees visitors, a higher value for money because tourists experience more variety and diversity on any one itinerary/safari than anywhere else on the continent.
From some of the highest mountains on the African continent, with the largest snow-cap on the equator; to Africa’s largest lake and the world’s largest tropical lake, to the world’s longest river, punctuated by thunderously spectacular waters falls and the extensive savannahs, to the impenetrable forests and thriving cities, Uganda is a destination like no other.
But it is not just enough to be this uniquely gifted. To unlock the economic potential of these unique resources and to win in the ever-competitive tourism marketplace, Destination Uganda must distinguish itself from peers and competition. To establish and sustain this distinctive identity, and to convert this into a higher share of wallet, there must be single-mindedness and consistency in creating and maximizing awareness about The Pearl of Africa’s strongest and most competitive assets across the entire tourism value chain, of our tourism resources- the attractions, accommodations, amenities, and accessibility (how to get there).
It is against this vital need, that Uganda Tourism Board (UTB), Uganda’s tourism marketing and the regulatory agency decided to refresh and rebrand Destination Uganda.
The rebranding process was a two-year painstaking process, that included market research and benchmarking, and stakeholder engagement, including with the President of the Republic of Uganda, H.E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.
The Explore Uganda, The Pearl of Africa brand was unveiled to Uganda in January 2022 and was received with great warmth. The brand has also been received with great warmth and optimism by our key global partners in the tourism trade when we unveiled it at the Dubai Expo 2020 in Dubai, and at the just-ended World Travel Market (WTM) Africa 2022 in Cape Town South Africa.
Buoyed by this great market reception of the brand, we decided to enter the promotional film, shot for the awards into the 4th The International Tourism Film Festival Africa – ITFFA, an exclusive and unique tourism festival on the African Continent.
ITFFA is a member of The International Committee of Tourism Film Festivals (CIFFT), itself established in 1989 in Vienna to recognize, reward, and celebrate excellence in Travel Video Marketing. CIFFT brings together the World’s Best Tourism Film Festivals from four continents in an exclusive competition, the CIFFT Circuit, which is rated as the most prestigious award and recognition initiative for audio-visual tourism communication. The CIFFT Circuit is held in partnership with the UNWTO (World Tourism Organization), ETC (European Travel Commission), CTO (Caribbean Tourism Organization), CATA (Centro America Tourism Association), and Skal International.
For those who haven’t watched the gripping Explore Uganda, The Pearl of Africa promotional film, (I encourage you to visit our digital platforms to view, download and share the video), it captures and invites viewers to awaken their senses to the beauty, the natural sites, tasty food, warm people, and all the unique things that Destination Uganda is.
The Explore Uganda, Pearl of Africa destination film was produced by TBWA Uganda, shot and directed by LoukOut Films.
At the festival, Uganda competed with over 55 countries, who included such tourism big names as Spain, Greece, Australia, Greece, South Africa and Italy. Winners were decided by a diverse jury panel, which brought together professionals with expertise in Marketing, Tourism, and Audio-visual communication.
On Friday, May 6th, 2022, at a prestigious Awards Ceremony held at the Cape Town City Hall, UTB, as the brand guardians, on behalf of Destination Uganda, received the Gold Award for Tourist Destination Country-in Africa; Gold Award for Tourist Destination Country – Internationally and the Grand Prix Award for Tourism Destination Country in Africa.
Uganda won alongside other big tourism heavyweights such as Australia, Austria, Croatia, Fiji, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, Philippines, Portugal, Qatar, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, and Uganda.
Even more important, the ITFFA win, earned Uganda 9 points on the CIFFT Ranking List of the World’s Best Tourism Films of the year, putting us in the 4th spot and on top of the only 4 African countries on the list.
On my behalf and behalf of the Uganda Tourism Board, I would like to congratulate all our private sector, government stakeholders as well as development partners with whom we worked on developing the refreshed brand. Especially, I would like to thank H.E the President whose knowledge and insights were critical in grounding our brand research.
More importantly, I dedicate this win to all the players in the private sector tourism value chain who have braved the past two incredibly challenging years and on whom we bank our hopes of recovery. They are our boots on the ground, our brand ambassadors and the last mile through whom Destination Uganda delivers our promise—An Adventure of a Lifetime.
Let this win be a reminder and a motivator of the gem, the gold in our destination and at the same time a challenge to consistently deliver that golden experience to our visitors.
We are more than enthused by the local, regional and international reception, that our destination brand has received and are very optimistic about what this heralds for our tourism sector. As Uganda works its way out of the Covid-19 pandemic challenges to restore our tourism growth story, in line with the National Development Plan III targets, I would like to use this opportunity to rally for more efforts and resources toward our 2024/2025 objectives to restore growth and earnings to USD1.862 billion, among other key objectives.
I would like to reiterate that tourism is too important a building block for our country to be left to the tourism sector players alone. To stand out in the marketplace, and deliver those lifetime experiences, every time to our visitors, which will, in turn, translate into sustainable wins in market share, every Ugandan has to be deeply involved.
But we cannot sell a promise that we have not lived ourselves, I invite every Ugandan to make it a point to Explore, Uganda, the Pearl of Africa first and while at it, use every legitimate means available to them to tell this powerful story of the Pearl of Africa that we call home.
FOR GOD AND MY COUNTRY
Lilly Ajarova is the Chief Executive Officer of the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB)