UTB launches 6th Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo

The State Minister for Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities Godfrey Ssuubi Kiwanda has launched the 6th Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo (POATE 2021).  The first-ever virtual tourism expo is a tourism exposition organized annually by the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB). The expo 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.

The expo will take place from 23rd to 25th of April 2021 under the theme: ‘Restarting Tourism for Regional Economic Development’.

Speaking at Ndere cultural center, the minister said the expo will see suppliers of tourism products test the acceptance of these products in the post-covid-19 Ugandan market as well as presenting the opportunity for online networking by key stakeholders in the tourism industry.

Stories Continues after ad

“Domestically, we know that the private sector has been getting back on its feet in what is now the new normal and we know that it has not been easy and won’t get easy so soon; but yes, there is light at the end of the tunnel and as the Government, we have also been doing our homework by taking stock, looking for resources, and strategizing on a comeback strategy to support UTB in its recovery efforts”, the minister said.

According to the Bank of Uganda Monetary Policy Report for February, the Ugandan economy is projected to grow between 3% – 3.5% this financial year.

The UTB CEO Lilly Ajarova stated that 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.

“We have 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”, she said.

The virtual platform has unique abilities such as; Directory Listings where exhibitors will be able to showcase their products and services in a variety of multimedia formats, including video, website links and e-brochures.

“One -On-one  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,” she said.

The platform has Lead Generation which allows participants to remotely schedule individual thirty-minute video meetings and network with industry professionals and Choice Content Sessions where 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.

She said Participants for POATE 2021 will be vetted through a set of criteria that has been developed by the National organizing committee to ensure they are of the right caliber to showcase Destination Uganda’s offering.

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).

“Over the next coming days, UTB will be engaging the industry further on how best to take advantage of the numerous opportunities presented by POATE 2021. 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,” she said.

As we prepare for the gradual recovery of the global regional tourism sector, we believe that POATE 2021 will contribute the following:

The Chairman of the 4th Board of Directors of UTB expressed Daudi Migereko said the expo came at the right time and it will be used to send out a message of hope to the tourism sector; a message focused on recovery, rebuilding, reconnecting and rebooting the Ugandan tourism sector.

UTB is optimistic that the global vaccination will trigger resumption of international tourists into the country; indeed according to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the tourism industry is recovering with 2021 expected to be better than 2020, with a rebound expected in 2022.