Home » Africa: Despite COVID challenges, UTB leverages on internet to hold first virtual tourism expo to revive industry

Africa: Despite COVID challenges, UTB leverages on internet to hold first virtual tourism expo to revive industry

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With the challenges throwing up by the coronavirus pandemic which induced travel restrictions and social distancing, Uganda Tourism Board said it is leveraging on the internet to hold the country’s first virtual tourism expo to reach as many participants as possible.

According to chimpreports.com, the COVID-19 Pandemic left many businesses crippled with the Tourism industry listed as one of the worst hit all over the world.

In efforts of reviving the Tourism industry in Uganda, the Uganda Tourism Board is set to host the 6th Pearl of Africa Tourism expo which is going to be the first ever virtual tourism expo in the country.

The expo is set to take place from the 23rd to 25th of April under the theme “Restarting Tourism for Regional Economic Development.”

ChimpReports had a chat with Claire Mugabi, the UTB Marketing Manager who gave us a Sneak pic in how the expo would be conducted.

What is POATE?
POATE is a tourism exposition organized annually by the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB). It brings together domestic, regional and international tour operators, travel agents, destination agencies and various players in the tourism trade to network and facilitate tourism business.

It is a unique opportunity for tourism businesses to meet new clients, network, and market their services and products.

With the effects of the Pandemic to the tourism sector, POATE is an initiate to revive the industry back to its glory days. This will create opportunities for growth of country and the economy in general. It is one avenue of selling Uganda to Ugandans and those abroad.

Why go on with POATE this year?
This year unlike in the past, POATE is going to be a virtual event. The decision to go virtual was not only informed and influenced by the unique physical and logistical challenges posed by Covid-19 and the associated limitations, but it was also out of UTBs desire to leverage the internet to bring on board as many participants as possible.

How exactly will this virtual POATE work?
UTB has built a specialized virtual meeting platform that shall facilitate one-on-one meetings, virtual speed networking sessions as well as live conference sessions for domestic, regional and international tourism players.
This virtual platform has unique abilities such as:
Directory Listings: This is similar to on-stand presentations- where exhibitors will be able to showcase their products and services in a variety of multimedia formats, including video, website links and e-brochures. For easy searchability and fundability, exhibitors can list their products and service categories.

1-On-1 Meetings: The meetings function within the platform will be exclusive to buyers, media and exhibitors only, and shall allow participants to connect with the highest level of travel trade industry professionals with direct purchasing power. Participants can create their attendee profile, adding products and regions they are interested to buy from. This will make it easy for exhibitors and other participants to quickly find and match contacts that suit their business needs.

Lead Generation: The virtual platform allows participants to remotely schedule individual thirty-minute video meetings and network with industry professionals. The system also allows several functionalities, such as the exchange of business cards, drawing up of draft contracts etc.

Choice Content Sessions: Participants will have a variety of live sessions, debates and forums from industry experts to choose from. A variety of topics from experts in key areas such as hotels, aviation, resilience, sustainability, and recovery in a post-COVID-19 world have all been lined up

What kind of participants is UTB targeting for this event?
Based on UTB’s recovery marketing strategy, hosted buyers and exhibitors will be sourced from the existing core and emerging source markets within the East African Region (Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda), rest of Africa (Egypt, Nigeria, South Africa) and the international markets (North America, UK and Ireland, Germany speaking countries, Japan, Gulf states and China and the new markets of France, Belgium + Netherlands).

Building on the successes of POATE 2020 where we registered a 138% growth in exhibitors, from 63 exhibitors in 2018 to 150 exhibitors in 2020, and leveraging the power of the internet, this time we expect to attract more than 200 exhibitors.

What are some of the benefits or opportunities that these participants and the country will gain from being part of POATE 2021?
As we prepare for the gradual recovery of the global regional tourism sector, we believe that POATE 2021 will contribute the following:
Increased Destination Awareness: POATE 2021 will enable trade visitors and exhibitors to showcase and obtain the latest information on available tourism products from Uganda and the rest of the world.

Increased product knowledge: The expo will enable suppliers of tourism products to test the acceptance of these products in the post-covid-19 Ugandan market.

Enhanced Tourism Service Distribution: POATE 2021 will enable distributors of tourism products to interact with suppliers and distributors in the value chain to establish relationships necessary for business sustainability.

New Business Deals and Enhanced Private Sector Development: During POATE 2021, suppliers of tourism-related services and products will close and sign business deals through travel bookings on-spot. An estimated ROI of UGX 12.2 billion is expected in the subsequent financial years.

Relationship Building; POATE 2021 will present the opportunity for online networking by key stakeholders in the tourism industry; it will also provide a useful platform for stakeholders to explore co-operative exchanges and activities.

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