Amb. Tibaleka, Hon. Prof. Kamuntu, and Mr.Mark Donfried, Director General, ICD
Hon. Prof. Ephraim Kamuntu, Uganda's Minister for Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, on 9th March 2017 presented a paper highlighting the economic and social benefits of nation branding as a catalyst for sustainable tourism development and foreign investments. This was during the Berlin Economic Forum 2017 that is taking place at the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy in Berlin. He was accompanied to the Forum by Amb. Marcel Tibaleka, Uganda's Ambassador to Germany, Mrs. Doreen Katusiime, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, Mrs. Mbabazi Aulo Grace, Commissioner Tourism Development and officials from the Uganda Embassy in Berlin.
Hon. Prof. Kamuntu pointed out that Nations world wide must manage and control their branding as a persuasive way of reaching out to visitors and potential investors. "Many countries have engaged a number of experts to develop country brand strategies which involve developing brand identity, image, personality, essence, character and culture to reach out to the rest of the world." he said.
The Hon. Minister noted that there was still the challenge of understanding of the African continent. He said that there were people who still in this age thought Africa was a homogeneous continent and even went further to think it is just a single country.
He told his audience that the East African region, termed as Borderless Borders, was now a one destination comprising of Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda and was being promoted as Destination East Africa, where a Single visa akin to Schengen visa grants one access to any of the countries in the region. "We are focusing our brand as a region of diverse and exciting options from tropical forests, glaciers, savannah, and white sands beaches. Brand focus shows that we are a bigger region." he said.
Hon. Prof. Kamuntu said there was need to tap on Uganda's wealth of diversity by promoting regional tourism through tourism clusters. This intra-branding will define Uganda as a nation of diversity reinforcing the national brand as the Pearl of Africa.
He said that as a result of innovative marketing and branding, Uganda was regaining her position as a top African destination as it was in the 1960's.
Over the last decade, Uganda has experienced a fast and steady growth in tourist arrivals from the recorded 192,000 in the year 2000 to 1,266,046 visitor arrivals in the year 2014 and 1,303,000 in 2015. Tourism has continued to be the number one foreign exchange earner generating US $ 1.35 billion (23.5%) total exports in 2015 and accounting for 9.9% of total GDP.
The direct employment contribution of tourism is estimated at 464,300 or 3.1% of total employment, while the total contribution of tourism was at 7.8% (1.7 million) of total employment.
He ended by appealing to potential investors to consider investing in Uganda's tourist sector. He said that Government had developed policies and laws to encourage investment in the sector. There are incentives in hotel and tour operations development and the business registration process has been simplified through the E-registration platform.
Uganda was voted number one tourist destination for 2012 by Lonely Planet (the largest travel guide book and digital media publisher in the world).
Mt Rwenzori voted among the top hiking places in Africa and among the top 15 hiking spots in the world BY National Geographic Magazine.
Virunga volcanoes in south-western Uganda, was identified as one of the top 20 places to visit in the world by National Geographic.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park was voted Africa's number one birding site by the African Bird club. The ranking also put Murchison Falls National Park in ninth position among the top 10 birding sites on the continent.
The Tree climbing lions of Ishasha picture was voted No.1 of the 2010 November National Geographic. Ishasha lions are one of the only three known in the world.
The Chobe Lodge Gym was voted No.1 by CNN because of its scenic view in 2015.
River Nile with its source in Uganda was named one of the seven wonders of Africa in 2013.
Uganda re-emerged as Top Tourist Destination in 2014 by CNN.
Rough Guides picked Uganda as the 4th best destination in the world and number one in Africa.
Wanderlust Movement picked Kidepo Valley National Park as the best destination in 2017.