7th edition of Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo opens in Uganda

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The 2023 edition of the Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo (POATE 2023) has opened in Kampala, Uganda’s capital. It is the first time the event is being held physically after a three-year absence due to COVID-19 and following a virtual one that was held in 2021.

The opening ceremony attracted patrons from a wide spectrum of the tourism value chain in Uganda, East Africa, Africa and the rest of the world. They included both government and private sector tourism, travel and hospitality stakeholders who were obviously excited to be back in person to engage, learn, and do business and promote their respective destinations, products and services.

CEO of the Uganda Tourism Board, the lead organizing agency, Lilly Ajarova in her opening speech made a strong case for the promotion of sustainable and responsible tourism.

“I want to introduce to you a new direction that we should all be taking with tourism in Uganda and the East Africa; and this is sustainability and responsible tourism as the next emerging trend for tourism development; most specifically, in Uganda. It is time to align all of our interventions to this emerging trend. It is not necessary a new idea, it is just to draw attention to the tourism practice and management that minimizes the negative social, economic and environmental impacts that also generates greater economic benefits for people and communities,” she stressed

CEO of Uganda Tourism Board, Lilly Ajarova

Ajarova added that the enormous significance of tourism to socio-economic and empowerment of those involved called for a streamlining of sustainable practices in the sector; of which she disclosed that Uganda’s main entities within the industry will soon align their practices in this regard.

Rich culture was on full display to welcome delegates to the opening of POATE2023

She maintained, “For a sector that contributed over 1.5 million jobs in 2019, and accounts for two in every ten jobs, over 60% employed being women, the way of doing things could be much more streamlined for sustainable tourism. Over the next few months, Uganda Tourism Board under the leadership of the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities and the key sector players in Uganda will align to practices that enshrine the forces in the service delivery, product development, tourism investment and promotion of Uganda’s tourism industry. We will promote the use of recyclable material, reduction of waste and also promote the conservation of the environment while respecting the host communities.”

Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities Tom Butime intimated that tourism in Uganda continues to thrive due to the peace and stability the country has had for a long time among other many factors which were being spearheaded by government. He declared that although the East African country had recorded impressive tourism figures, they were not resting on their oars in attracting more tourists to Uganda.

“Despite the soaring interest in visitations to Uganda, the country can still do more and attract more visitors, so we are not satisfied at all. A number of initiatives are in place to drum up visibility for our destination and the Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo is one such vehicle that creates awareness of the destination and is used to increase visitors to Uganda.

Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, Tom Butime

“Tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors in the country and has previously contributed to over $1.6 billion and accounted for 7.7% of the national GDP. It is our hope that as we fully recover, earnings from tourism will more than double,” the Minister emphasized.

POATE 2023 has attracted participation from over 150 Exhibitors and 100 Hosted Buyers, including tourism boards and associations from various regions of Africa including, South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Egypt. Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, United Kingdom, USA and Spain are some of the non-African countries with representations at the Expo.

They are here to explore Uganda and also to include our destination to their African itinerary in the next few months. interact with our local suppliers for the benefit of tourism.
Lilliy Ajarova said the draw of POATE2023 meant that “the event has grown in leaps and buyers are here to explore Uganda and also to include our destination to their African itinerary in the next few months.”

To see photos from day one of POATE2023, click here

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