Despite the devastating effect of the coronavirus pandemic might on the travel and tourism industry globally, the Uganda Tourism Board is hopeful that the agency will be able to shake off the impact of the disease on the sector, as it expects to earn at least Shs12.2b as a return on investment in new business deals at the Pearl Of Africa Tourism Expo event.
According to monitor.co.ug the deals, which are expected to be signed by suppliers of tourism related products during this year’s tourism expo, will include on spot travel bookings and exhibitions among others.
Ms Lilly Ajarova, the UTB chief executive made the revelation during the launch of the sixth edition of the Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo, which will be held virtually.
The expo themed: “Restarting Tourism for Regional Economic Development” brings together domestic, regional and international tour operators, travel agents, destination agencies and other players in to network and facilitate tourism business.
Ms Ajarova said the decision to hold the expo virtually was not only informed and influenced by the unique physical and logistical challenges posed by Covid-19, but out of desire to leverage the Internet as a marketing tool for Uganda’s tourism.
“We have built a specialised 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,” she said.
Participants will be vetted through a set of criteria while buyers and exhibitors will be sourced from existing and emerging source markets within East Africa, the rest of Africa and international markets such as the America, Europe and Asia.
Ms Ajarova said, this year’s expo will seek to build on the successes of last year in which UTB registered a 138 per cent growth in exhibitors, from 63 in 2018 to 150.
According to Mr Daudi Migereko, the UTB chairperson, whereas Covid-19 had presented challenges, the rise in uptake of Covid-19 vaccine across the world presents an opportunity for tourism to rebound at least by 2022.
The expo is expected to increase destination awareness to enhance trade visitors and exhibitors as well as improve tourism service distribution through creating an environment in which distributors of tourism products can interact with suppliers and distributors in the value chain.