We were reminded each day at the Munyounyo Speke Resort in Kampala that the Pearl Of Africa Tourism Expo had begun with the loud music, and each beat of the drum and dancing bells by the crane performers.

Photo credit: Ssenyonyi Derrick

The 5th edition of the Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo commenced on the 4th of February 2020 and ended on the 6th of February 2020. It was interesting to witness the final product of the magic that was created by the Uganda Tourism Board within 2 and a half months. I was impressed by the number of hosted buyers, international exhibitors, and international media the #POATE2020 team was able to organize in such a short time without any mishaps.

If you are reading this unaware of what Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo is, do not worry, I have got you covered. “POATE” is a tourism and travel trade exhibition which brings together regional and international tour operators, travel agents, destination agencies and various players in the tourism trade to network and facilitate tourism business with our own domestic tourism trade- that is composed of largely tour operators, hoteliers, conservationists and government.

Here is how the expo week went;

Day 1

Photo Credit: Samuel McCoy

The first day started with an opening ceremony with the presence of the Guest of Honor, H. E the President Of The Republic Of Uganda; Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, being represented by the 1st Deputy Prime Minister, Hon. Moses Ali. Also present was the federal Minster of Tourism Wildlife and Antiquities- Hon. To Butime, the CEO of Uganda Tourism Board – Mrs. Lilly Ajarova, the State Minister of Tourism in Uganda – Mr. Godfrey Kiwanda, the publisher of Africa Travel Quarterly Magazine – Mr. Ikechi Uko and several honorable guests.

While giving a speech, the CEO of the Uganda Tourism Board mentioned that Tourism in Uganda contributes nearly 8% to GDP, employs over 667,000 Ugandans; which is over 6.7% of Uganda’s total employment. Additionally, the sector also contributes USD1.6b in foreign exchange earnings. CLICK HERE to subscribe and get the full speech and statistics given at the opening ceremony.

Photo Credit: @metmediaug

During the opening Ceremony, Mr. Ikechi Uko presented Mrs. Lilly with the “Top 100 Tourism Personalities award”, after which the CEO of the Uganda Tourism Board took the 1st Deputy Prime Minister on a tour of the exhibition facility. The 1st Deputy Prime Minister also witnessed the signing of the MOU between Uganda’s National Carrier (Uganda Airlines) and Uganda Tourism Board.

Panel Session: Sustainable tour operations and accommodation practices

Baguma Cuthbert, Gloria Tumwesigye , Avinash Venkama, Angela Njehia

This panel session beckoned on hotel owners, managers and tour operators to use less of plastic bottles on their tours or in hotels and use more of water dispensers, along with other sustainable practices. Solutions were brought forward on ways to grow the tourism industry in a sustainable environment without affecting the bottom line of a business or GDP of the country.

Day 2

As a member of the press, I started my day with a press conference with the CEO of the Uganda Tourism Board, along with a series of Interviews and conferences. The President of the Africa Tourism Board – Alain St. Agne gave a brief summary of the panel session he had in the short interview I had with him.

For updates on the panel session with Mr. Ikechi Uko, Pearl Kakooza TUGATA, Alain St Ange, Dr. Carmen Nibigira, CLICK HERE to watch the video’s on Uganda Tourism Board Facebook page.

Day 3

The final day of the expo ended with more conferences moderated by Hon Daudi Migereko and Mr. Stephen Asilmwe on the following topics: Tourism Investment Opportunities & Threat, and Emerging Trends in Tourism and Hospitality.

Overall, it was established at the expo that Uganda is one of the safest countries in Africa, and she has the largest number of bird species in Africa, and she houses 39% of Africa’s mammals. Uganda was also established as a go-to for religious tourism, wild life tourism and more. CLICK HERE to see more on Uganda.