Do you guys know that from the time Uganda hired 3 PR firms, one in the US, another Germany and UK business especially for bwindi is hitting the roof?
Try calling UWA to find accommodation or Gorilla permits in July, August or September 2018 see for yourselves……this has never happened before.
We should market Uganda as a destination one can come to and do no gorilla trekking but still enjoy it to maximum.
As a company we are struggling to find either accommodation or gorilla permits and it’s a nightmare…..its a very good problem now.
Rwenzori for example can attract over 50k tourists annually and can create over 10k jobs same as mtn Elgon…… Kidepo the same.
Another 3 years of these guys (PR firms) marketing will see many people joining tourism.
Ugandas tourism growth
After writing about Ugandas tourism being on fire, I realize I need to shade more light on how tourism marketing and number growth happens. A lot of people not all were attributing our gorilla tourism growth in gorilla trekking only to the hike of Rwanda gorilla permits.
The gorilla permits in Rwanda have been more expensive than Uganda for many years but why was Uganda having less than 50 percent throughout the year? Uganda even reduced its gorilla permit cost to USD450 during a low season but still couldn’t attract the necessary numbers, why?
I write this from an experienced point of view and since I have presence in Kibale National park(Primate Lodge Kibale), Budongo forest(Budongo Eco Lodge ) and Queen Elizabeth( Simba Safari Camp ltd) and also through marketing experiences across the world.
Its been very hard for anybody to sell Uganda because people who are the final consumers of tourism services who are the paying clients had not been persuaded through logical marketing for over many years. As businesses we have been traveling across the world to convince whole sellers about Uganda the destination. Yes, they tried convincing a few of their clients about Uganda though it was an uphill task.
The whole sellers are big companies based in our source markets (countries we get paying tourists from) for example in Germany we can talk of Tui, Thomas cook etc. The companies sell hundreds of destinations and they follow the desires of the paying tourists and in the West, you will find that travelers have established long term relationships with these whole sellers. They will approach a DMC (destination Management company like Great Lakes Safaris ltd, also called a ground handlers of tourists) and will sign contracts if they feel you can meet their clients needs and they will require to the know through writing the quality of your vehicles, Guides, accommodation, insurances (for example Great Lakes safaris insurance covers any trouble unto USD5m).
The whole sellers will mainly send clients to countries that have put in efforts in marketing themselves for example Kenya has about 18 PR firms across the world whose job is simply talking about how beautiful Kenya is including here in Uganda through engaging the media houses as well as whole sellers. You hear Kenya campaigns all the time on radios, you read about them in our news papers and they transport, accommodate our local across Kenya every single year and return to share their experiences either on social media or in the main stream media.
Uganda in May 2016, hired 3 PR firms like I wrote about yesterday on my wall, in the US, Germany and UK and these firms have been bringing the press to Uganda in big numbers and those living in the UK for example can attest to this. Its the final consumer who reads about Uganda and then approaches their agents for Uganda as a destination. Ofcourse the PR firms needed to work on low hanging fruits which has been mainly Bwindi, Kibale and Queen Elizabeth National park but primate national parks have limitations in numbers and its scientific only 8 people are allowed to trek each gorilla family per day spending only one hour each group.
Uganda has less than 35.000 gorilla permits( in Egypt they can receive over 800000 tourists in a month) for a whole year the reason, we should change our strategic in the next round of marketing…..Uganda should use the Nile as a flagship product followed by Lake Victoria because if the 2 get developed for tourism purposes, they can handle bigger numbers which will create for opportunities for Uganda as a country. The other focus should be to tell the world that anybody can come to Uganda see no gorillas but still enjoy Uganda….Uganda is also a very important birding destination and this should be emphasized during the next round of marketing. Uganda is still at the bottom in terms of tourism and therefore any growth sends shocks waves to the industry.
I also think that we should use a gorilla permit as a bait and those that want to trek Gorillas should visit at least 2 other national parks so that the clients spend more time in the country and hence more money to be earned by all the service providers. Ugandans must also be told how they can position themselves because money won’t just walk in their pockets. Research by MUBS revealed that if a tourist comes to Uganda with USD1000 to spend, they only spend USD400 because we haven’t positioned our products well. There is lack of information about possible spending places at the hotel receptions and one can drive from Kampala to Entebbe and almost see nothing to spend money on.
I know we love faith as a people but know that a little faith plus real hardwork is better than a lot of faith with caught up in laziness…….
This article first appeared on Amos Wekesa’s Facebook page.