On October 15, Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) CEO, Lily Ajarova, addressed journalists at the Protea Hotel by Marriott in Uganda on performance over key areas such as quality assurance of tourism facilities, product development and destination promotion in the first quarter (July, August and September).

According to Ajarova, in Q1, the agency scored highly as far as quality assurance was concerned, in relation to its role regulating the tourism industry in the country.

This is done through registering all tourism enterprises, including tour guides, travel agents, tour operators, accommodation facilities and restaurants.

“UTB was able to re-establish e-registration and licensing system and has already made progress in registering accommodation facilities, tour guides, travel agents and some of the other enterprises in the industry,” Ajarova said.

From July to September, UTB registered 150 travel and tour companies, 2066 accommodation facilities with 578 from Eastern Uganda, 603 from northern Uganda and 885 from central Uganda.

In conjunction with other partners, UTB has also embarked on an exercise to train and develop an up-to-date assessment of tour guides. This will be followed with licensing in subsequent months.

Ajarova said it had packaged Uganda as a MICE destination and was actively marketing it at international travel markets.

The board has also partnered with the private sector and sister agencies, the Uganda Wildlife Authority and Uganda Wildlife Education Centre to identify and secure exhibition space in international and regional travel exhibitions.

So far, UTB was able to take part in the Magical Kenya Travel Expo, Lagos International Trade Fair in Nigeria, The World Travel Market Africa in Cape Town, South Africa and the Trade Roadshow in Canada, which have aided in promoting, expanding and increasing awareness, consequently increasing the number of tourists globally.

Statistics show that tourist arrivals grew from 1.2 million in 2017 to 1.5 million in 2018. Forex grew from $1.45 billion to $1.6 billion in 2018. The tourism sector contributed 7.7% of GDP and created 667 600 jobs in 2018 amounting to 6.7% of the total employment in the country.

The performance, according to Ajarova, shows growth and gives UTB an opportunity to increase these numbers.