By Lilly Ajarova
On 21st January 2022, the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB), the Official Government of Uganda’s tourism marketing and regulatory agency launched our long-awaited tourism destination brand, Explore Uganda, The Pearl of Africa.
The refreshed brand; Explore Uganda, The Pearl of Africa, which was officially unveiled by H.E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, is a 2-in-1 expression of the diversity and richness of Uganda’s tourism attractions and an invitation to both Ugandans at home and the world to discover and experience the pearl.
The brand is a product of combined public and private sector stakeholders’ dedication to collectively identifying, packaging and ultimately communicating and delivering lifetime and unforgettable experiences to our visitors.
Explore Uganda, the Pearl of Africa acknowledges and seeks to differentiate Uganda as a destination of multiple experiences in one unique place and therefore position us as the most competitive destination in Africa and the world to tourists and tourism investors alike.
At the core of this new brand, Explore Uganda, The Pearl of Africa, there are three important elements, namely:
THE PEARL OF AFRICA: This is the brand essence; the soul of the brand. This is our legacy as a country that is deeply rooted both in history and the present. Pearls are an expression of something of great rarity and worth and therefore, Pearl of Africa re emphasises the rare depth, beautiful range, and precious variety of the attractions in Uganda. It underlines the worth; the value and by extension, the high return on investment that this rarity and uniqueness presents to tourists and by extension, to tourism investors looking to maximise value in a destination.
EXPLORE UGANDA: This is the call to action. Explore Uganda, the Pearl of Africa is an invitation to our tourists- both domestic, regional and international to rediscover the magnificence of the Pearl. We are reminding the world that the best way to experience Destination Uganda is to savour its pleasures slowly.
Do not rush.
We are telling the world that Uganda is not just a destination for travellers, but rather a journey of multiple experiences, fused in one destination. It is a reminder that Uganda offers something for everyone- young and old; luxury, midrange, and low budget travellers; thrill-seeking and adrenaline junkies to relaxing and romantic getaways; group trips to private holidays.
Explore Uganda is an invitation to go beyond merely visiting to indulge and spoil themselves. It is an invitation to delve into; to deep-dive; to discover and rediscover- the depth, range and variety of attractions and experiences that abound in Uganda, the Pearl of Africa.
That is why we adjusted the previous call to action- Visit Uganda and replaced it with Explore Uganda. Visiting Uganda did not do justice to the Pearl of Africa.
Explore Uganda, fits very well within our core mission to increase not just the numbers of tourist arrivals, but also both the length of stay and subsequently the value of spend and then the jobs created.
ADVENTURE OF A LIFETIME: This is the brand value proposition or what we want stakeholders to think about destination Uganda every time they think of us. It is the reason to believe it is the why; the justification of why they should Explore Uganda, the Pearl of Africa. It is also a reminder to our Ugandan service providers of what should be delivered to the customer, every time.
So, Adventure of a Lifetime seeks to emphasize that Uganda, is a fusion of all that is rare, precious and beautiful in Africa.
WHAT IS A BRAND/ BRAND IDENTITY AND WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
Uganda is and has always been known as the Pearl of Africa, so what exactly was the rebranding about? Why is it important and how can everyone get involved?
Yes, it is true Uganda has always been beautiful— beautiful beyond measure.
Unlike many countries on the continent and indeed the world, Uganda is a destination that is not only packed with everything rare, precious and beautiful in Africa but these resources are also concentrated in an even smaller geographical area. This creates higher value for money and or return on investment because tourists experience more variety and diversity on any one itinerary/safari than anywhere else on the continent.
This is why over and above our Pearl of Africa credentials, amongst many other niche travel and tourism circles, it is not uncommon to hear Uganda often described as a “birding paradise in the heart of Africa”; “the primate capital of Africa” and amongst the youthful travellers’ segment, Kampala is known as the ‘Entertainment Capital of East Africa’.
With all the above attractions- it is not only the tourists that are spoilt for choice- but even for the various players in the tourism sector especially us as the national tourism agency as well as for the thousands of the tourism private sector players, there was a lack of clarity and consistency on, if Uganda is the Pearl of Africa- what are the different crystals that make up the Pearl?
Why is this shared understanding important?
Uganda’s tourism industry, like the rest of the global tourism industry, is at its basic, made up of 5 As, namely:
1. ATTRACTIONS (natural or man-made)
2. ACCESSIBILITY (how to get to the attractions)
3. ACCOMMODATION (should visitors need to stay overnight and longer to enjoy more)
4. AMENITIES (enablers and enhancers of the tourist experience en route to and at the destination).
5. AWARENESS— the maximising, amongst both internal and external stakeholders of knowledge about the above attractions, accessibility accommodation and amenities. It is about unpacking the other 4As in ways that position Uganda as the most competitive destination for an adventure of a lifetime, are relevant and or meet the tourists’ preferences. Awareness is about creating a shared stakeholder understanding of destination Uganda as the best destination for their present and possibly future travel needs.
It is therefore mission-critical that there is a shared understanding and therefore harmonised messaging of all the multiple experiences that destination Uganda is, into a consistent, credible, authentic and trusted promise and value proposition that tourists and the travel trade are not only willing to buy into but are happy and confident to recommend to their friends and family and their customers, we needed to refresh our brand.
A brand, at its basic,is a promise and the feelings and or perceptions this promise elicits and/ evokes from the customer.
For Destination Uganda, to build a great brand; to move from being a destination that not only promises an adventure of a lifetime, to becoming a destination that consistently delivers this lifetime experience, but there must also be a mutually shared value proposition by all of Uganda’s tourism ecosystem and a shared commitment to deliver this proposition to all our visitors all the time, at all the touchpoints. This consistency in understanding and delivering a single-minded value proposition is important for increasing not only the arrivals of tourists, but it is also critical for increasing tourist satisfaction, increasing length of stay and therefore tourist spending per trip. All these combined, will then stimulate more investment in the sector, create more jobs and therefore increase income at the household level and the national level in the form of Foreign Direct Investment and taxes.
This is the holy grail of it all— this is the strategic importance of the destination rebranding and the refreshed destination brand.
The new brand sits at the core of our Corporate Purpose as UTB,i.e., to “Sustainably Promote Uganda as a Competitive Tourism Destination for Inclusive Development” by “sustainably increasing the volume and value of tourism in Uganda.”
This itself is not an end, but rather a core strand to meeting Uganda’s broader vision of transforming Uganda from a peasant to a modern and prosperous country by increasing household incomes and the quality of life of Ugandans.
We are very excited about the new Destination Brand and what it heralds for our tourism sector and by extension our country Uganda.
We do believe it will make us stand out in the marketplace and the minds of customers. How well we sustainably convert that into sustainable wins in the hearts and eventually the wallets of tourists, remains a lifetime pursuit and the individual work of each of us and the millions of Ugandans out there.
I urge us all, to each of us in our respective capacities―citizens, the private sector, the government and friends of Uganda the world over, to each do our best to deliver a lifetime experience to our tourists.
But we cannot sell a promise that we have not lived by ourselves, I invite every Ugandan to make it a point to Explore Uganda, the Pearl of Africa first and while at it, use every legitimate means available to them to tell this powerful story of the Pearl of Africa.
PROMOTING TOURISM TOGETHER!FOR GOD AND MY COUNTRY.
Lilly Ajarova is the Chief Executive Officer of the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB)