Uganda’s Minister for Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, Hon. Prof. Ephraim Kamuntu, has said Uganda is targeting four million tourists by the year 2020.
Prof Kamuntu who is heading a delegation of government and private sector players at the China Guangdong International Tourism Expo said that in line to achieve this target, government plans to invest heavily in marketing Uganda to the “very important” Chinese market.
He said that arrivals of Chinese tourists will be raised to one million in the next three years. In 2011, only 8,000 arrivals of Chinese tourists in Uganda were recorded.
The Minister and his delegation are in China as part of promotional efforts to get at least one million tourists from the world’s largest outbound tourist nation.
Speaking at the sidelines of the expo which attracted over 500,000 people, Minister Kamuntu said; “We are going to embark on an aggressive marketing campaign in this very important market. To this end, the government is looking at the Chinese outbound tourism market contributing greatly to its aspiration”.
The Minister was accompanied by Mr. Stephen Asiimwe, the Chief Executive Officer of the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB), officials from the Uganda Embassy in Beijing, staff of Uganda’s consulate in Guangzhou led by Ambassador Solomon Rutega and Uganda’s Consul General in Guangzhou.
Government in the 2017/18 budget made an appropriation for representation of Uganda in China, said Asiimwe who heads UTB the government agency responsible for marketing Uganda’s tourism.
“In this year’s budget, we have included a budget for market representation and public relations. We hope that this will help bolster our presence in the Chinese market, increase visibility and awareness of the destination and grow visitor stay and spend in Uganda,” Asiimwe said.
On an annual basis Chinese outbound travelers (who leave China to tour elsewhere) spend at least USD 136 million.
China is particularly a suitable tourism market due to its strong middle class population that contributes USD 150 million to the country’s GDP in addition to a young population (20-34 years) that earns 30% of China’s GDP with a spending power of over USD 164 million.
10% of Chinese outbound tourists visit Africa but Egypt, South Africa, Kenya and Tanzania are their most preferred destinations due to their aggressive marketing strategies.
The Guangdong Expo and conference, was held over the weekend at the Pazhou Exhibition Complex in Guangzhou, China’s richest province in China, with a GDP of US$ 1.15 trillion, and a population of over 110 million people.
The side event was organised as part of ongoing activities by the Consulate to create further awareness of Uganda as a favourable tourist destination.
Minister Kamuntu told an audience dominated by tour ad travel operators that Uganda has enjoyed peace and stability over the last many years which positions it as a safe destination.
He called on tour and travel operators to establish links with their counterparts in Uganda to develop itineraries that suite the Chinese outbound market.
Ambassador Rutega said since the establishment of the Consulate, trade, investment and tourism had increased tremendously.
One of our core result areas has been tourism. We hope that these engagements will ensure the government targets are met.
The Tourism Administration of Guangdong Province was represented by Mr. Liang Yongzhong, who expressed the readiness of the government of China to support Uganda’s efforts to attract Chinese outbound tourists.
The Minister is in Guangzhou, as part of his visit to China, during which he will attend the General Assembly of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation in Chengdu, Sichuan Province.
He will also preside over another Consulate-organised Conference on promoting Uganda’s investment and tourism opportunities in Nanning City, Guangxi Province on September 14 and Guangzhou on September 9.
Chinese who are known to travel in groups of 5 to 40 people spend at least USD 40,000 (per person) which is double of what UK tourists spend.
But while Uganda invests in establishing a marketing footprint in China, issues like language and inadequate facilities to accommodate large numbers of big spenders on the part of Uganda’s upcountry hotels and lodges remain a setback.