Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Uganda is a Gifted Country but Needs a Publicity Push

It is no surprise that the world's most famous travel bible Lonely Planet has recognised the nature, culture, beauty and hospitality that Uganda has to offer. The Pearl of Africa has many attributes, which make it the perfect holiday destination. Gone are the days when Uganda was associated with Idi Amin, HIV/AIDS and Joseph Kony.

So, are the relevant Ugandan authorities doing enough to promote the country as a tourist destination overseas? How should Uganda's being brought into the spotlight by Lonely Planet be built on? Is enough being done to market and sell Ugandan made products overseas?

Train stations in London are plastered with posters of South African scenery, inviting people to visit the country. Around the city are advertising boards saying, 'Incredible India', 'Morocco: the country that travels within you', 'Nigeria: There's more beneath the surface', and 'Turkey welcomes you', all aimed at potential visitors. However, missing are the tourism campaigns encouraging people to visit Uganda.

There are no posters with images of the sun-setting on Lake Victoria, no pictures of Bwindi's mountain gorillas, no billboards informing people of the glistening Pearl of Africa. There are no media campaigns telling adventure seekers about white water rafting in Jinja, or targeting nature lovers through marketing the numerous national parks, or attracting lovers of luxury to the five-star Kampala Serena hotel.

The attractions of Uganda almost speak for themselves, meaning that any advertising need not be complicated. There is no need for gimmicks or celebrity endorsements; the gifts of nature speak for themselves. Perhaps lessons could be learnt from Rwanda, which after the horrors of genocide, has risen as a popular destination for tourists. There, the government created a tourism strategy focusing on all the country has to offer to potential visitors. They created a marketing strategy, which not only revamped the image of Rwanda as a destination for holiday-makers, but also as an attractive hotspot for international conferences and events.


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