Sunday, 12th November 2023; Kampala/Mombasa/Diani: Hon. Mulimba John, Uganda’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, in Charge of Regional Cooperation and Hon.Bahinduka Mugarra Martin, the State Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities are leading a delegation of over 200 Ugandan private and public sector players to the 2nd Uganda-Kenya Coast Tourism Conference 2023.
The Conference is organised by the Consulate General of Uganda in Mombasa, the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) as well as tourism stakeholders in Uganda and at the Kenyan Coast.
The conference runs from the 13th -14th November 2023 at the Diani Reef Beach Resort & Spa’s Diani Reef Convention Centre. Thereafter the Ugandan delegation shall immerse themselves in a variety of coastal excursions and experiences. From the 22nd November to 1st December, Uganda will also host the Kenyan delegation to a series of Familiarisation Trips (Fam Trips) to selected Kenyan tour operators to various Ugandan destinations and experiences.
The Business to Business (B2B) Conference which runs under the theme: “Consolidating Networks, Synergies & Diversity to maximise the tourism potential between Uganda and Kenya Coastal Region”, offers opportunities for tourism players in both countries to meet and explore joint business opportunities.
Over and above delegations from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, the delegation is composed of teams from the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB)- Uganda’s tourism marketing and regulatory agency; the Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU), Uganda’s apex body for the private sector and the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA).
The delegation also includes private sector players from the member association of the Confederation of Uganda Tourism Associations (COUTA)⏤ the umbrella body that brings together all tourism associations in Uganda. COUTA represents the unified voice of nine national associations, namely- Uganda Safari Guides Association (USAGA), Association of Uganda Travel Operators (AUTO), Uganda Community Tourism Association (UCOTA), Uganda Hotel Owners Association (UHOA), The Ugandan Association of Travel Agents (TUGATA), Hotel General Managers Association of Uganda (HOGMAU), National Arts & Cultural Crafts Association of Uganda (NACCAU), Uganda Women in Tourism (UWT) and Uganda Association of Conference Incentive Industry (UACII).
Consolidating and accelerating mutual growth opportunities between Uganda and Kenya Coast
Explaining the strategic importance of the conference to both countries, Hon John Mulimba said that Uganda and Kenya already enjoy mutual brisk business, including tourism and therefore this conference will both consolidate and accelerate the volume and value of this business relationship.
“Uganda is Kenya’s second biggest source market for tourists. In 2022, 150,900 Ugandans visited Kenya. Out of these, 22,200 visited the Kenyan Coast, up from 10,100 in 2021. Likewise, Kenya is Uganda’s leading source market for tourists. In 2022, 376,294 Kenyans visited Uganda, an increase of over 40,000 tourists from the 326,387 Kenyans tourists who visited Uganda in 2021. The increasing interest for Kenyans to visit Uganda is mainly due to various events that take place in Uganda such as Golf and Rugby tournaments, festivals, and music concerts among others.
For Ugandans, the main reasons for visiting Kenya Coast are: to enjoy the beaches and the coastal scenery and features; attend meetings and also for education purposes. There is also a growing number of Ugandans who visit Kenya Coast to have their wedding parties or spend their honeymoon at some to of the coastal hotels,” Hon Mulimba, noted.
“The overall objective of the conference is to consolidate networks, synergies and diversity to maximize the tourism potential between Uganda and Kenya coastal region,” he added.
Expounding further on the conference’s objectives, Uganda’s Consul General in Mombasa, Amb. Paul Mukumbya, said: “The conference is also, among other objectives aimed at creating more awareness about the two destinations and the tourism products they offer as well as enhance the synergies and complementarity between key tourism players from Uganda and the Kenya coastal region”.
“Building on the achievements of last year’s conference, the 2nd Uganda- Kenya Coast Tourism Conference shall continue to further explore investment opportunities in the tourism sector in Uganda; provide a platform for B2B networking, learning and information sharing as well as equip the key tourism players from Uganda and the Kenya coastal region with first-hand experience of the key tourism attractions so that they are in better position to market these attractions as well as promote. The conference will also explore further ways in which to popularise the Entebbe – Mombasa route operated by the Uganda Airlines,” Ambassador Mukumbya added.
Commenting on the conference, Hon.Bahinduka Mugarra Martin said: “Regional travel has always been a key driver of tourism in East Africa but has largely been reliant on East African residents and citizens. Given the proximity to each other and the increasingly better connectivity between our countries- Uganda Airlines- now flies twice daily to Nairobi, and thrice on Fridays, as well thrice to Mombasa. Extending regional travel to include foreign visitors will certainly add value to both our countries, as well as create better and unforgettable experiences for our visitors, hence increasing their likelihood of returning as well as recommending our two destinations.”
Herbert Byaruhanga, the COUTA President welcomed the conference and said that it fits well, within the industry’s desire to grow both the volume and value of tourism to the region
“Both our destinations- the Kenyan Coast and Uganda have something unique to offer to visitors. Consolidating this complementarity will not only enhance the value proposition and visitor experiences but will in medium to longterm increase both the number of visitors, the length of stay and expenditure,” Mr. Byaruhanga said.
Stephen Asiimwe, the Chief Executive Officer of PSFU, also welcomed the conference as a stitch in time.
“The Tourism industry is one of Uganda’s most strategic sectors, creating livelihoods for about 998,876 establishments- both formal and informal and prior to Covid-19, created a total number of 2,572,416 direct and indirect jobs, of whom 759,841 (29.5 per cent) were male and 1,815,576 (70.5 per cent) were female. This was however crushed to near-zero by the pandemic. Such joint collaborations in product development and destination marketing/selling are vital to the accelerated recovery of the sector,” Asiimwe reiterated.
Background to the Uganda- Kenya Coast Tourism Conference
On 17th November 2022, the Consulate General of Uganda in Mombasa in conjunction with tourism stakeholders in Uganda and at the Kenya Coast, organised the Uganda- Kenya Coast Tourism Conference and Exhibition in Mombasa. The Conference was followed by Excursions at the Kenya Coast and a familiarisation trip to Uganda by selected tour operators from the Kenya Coast.
Participants from Uganda took part in excursions in Kilifi/ North Coast (Gede ruins/ Arabuko Sokoke/ Vasco da Gama Pillar/ Maraf Hells Kitchen) and Kwale/ South Coast. A team from Kenya Coast made up of mainly tour operators also participated in a fam trip to Uganda where they visited the following tourist sites: Uganda Martyrs Shrine Namugongo, Ndere Centre, Lake Mburo National Park, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Kibale National Park.
The Conference and fam trip were rated very successful by participants and observers. It was resolved during the Conference that the event should be annual. Major tourism players expressed willingness to continue building synergies and complementarity to jointly promote the different tourism products from the two destinations.