Uganda targets digital marketing to boost tourism arrivals
As the world marked World Tourism Day, Uganda said it is targeting to use digital platforms to attract millions of tourists into the east African country.
The day was marked in the eastern Ugandan district of Jinja, where River Nile, the world's longest river, starts its journey to the Mediterranean Sea. The theme was, "Tourism and Digital Transformation."
Godfrey Kiwanda, minister of state for tourism, told Xinhua in a recent interview that the world is becoming digital and therefore Uganda has to match the trend.
"Tourism has to trend just like other sectors are trending through online promotion. Through digital transformation, we can make quick advertisement and even reach more people cheaply," Kiwandasaid.
"We are embracing digital transformation in order to achieve our target of receiving 4 million tourists per year by 2020," the minister said.
Uganda currently receives between 1.5 million and 2 million visitors per year and earns 1.4 billion U.S. dollars from tourism.
Kiwanda said Uganda still faces some challenges such as product development and value addition.
"We must add value in order to be at the same level with the rest of the world. We have the potential, such as the source of the Nile, many falls, and so on but there is need to add value. We need to build more roads to tourism sites, we need cable cars to be used to tour mountains and we need more first class hotels in tourism hot spots," he said.
He said the country also faces the challenge of product promotion, which involves aggressive marketing.
"Right now we are using only three international public relations firms to market our products in Germany, the United States and United Kingdom. But there are other bigger economies such as China and India which we have not utilized."
"If you must penetrate China and India, you definitely have to go digital. We hope to attract many more tourists from these economies through online marketing among other products," Kiwanda said.
He said the country would continue maintaining peace and stability and that tourists were assured of safety anytime they felt like coming in.
James Musinguzi, the executive director of Uganda Wildlife Education Center (UWEC), said the World Tourism Day theme was timely as they hoped to embrace the digital platform to spread information on the different species of wildlife they have in the country.
UWEC was recently elected as a top notch zoo by the Pan African Association of Zoos and Aquaria.
"We have already started going digital. We have adopted the zoological management information system where we have all our animals in a database, which database is shared worldwide. Somebody in California is able to notice that we have particular animals here," he said.
"Someone abroad may request for that animal in exchange for another animal we don't have here. So through the digital era, we can be able to exchange animals online but also monitor the animals' health, welfare, and ages using our digital platform," Musinguzi added.
He said this will also boost tourism as more people would get to learn about Uganda. (Xinhua)