UTB wants Shs5bn to promote Uganda’s tourism sector in foreign media

The revelation was made by Lilly Ajarova, UTB's Chief Executive Officer who urged legislators on the Committee on Trade and Tourism to support the budget to engage international media in the 2024/25 financial year.

The Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) has requested Shs5 billion to advertise Uganda’s tourism attractions in international media and also allay fears of prospective tourists over security concerns.

Concerning security, UTB wants to use international media to show that the National Parks in Uganda are secure despite the recent alert issued by the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) over an infiltration by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels into Uganda. As a result of this alert, it was revealed that many tourists had started canceling their bookings.

The revelation was made by Lilly Ajarova, UTB’s Chief Executive Officer who urged legislators on the Committee on Trade and Tourism to support the budget to engage international media in the 2024/25 financial year. She said this would help to avert the negativity that was occasioned by the army’s pronouncement.

“Engagement of international media; we need to do a lot more, yes we prioritise the UGX 1.2 billion that we put in, but that is very little, and we would appreciate it if we could get another Shs4Bn to add onto that because there is a lot of back and forth. I don’t know if you saw the press release from UPDF. It has caused a scare for the destination, Uganda. The number of phone calls that UTB and even I have received is overwhelming because the press release is saying Uganda is unsafe,” she said.

On March 18, 2024, Col. Deo Akiki, Deputy Spokesperson of UPDF, released a public warning, urging the populace to remain vigilant against possible terror attacks orchestrated by ADF militants following intelligence reports indicating a fresh infiltration of the terrorists into Ugandan territory. 

The ADF terrorists operate in the eastern part of the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo and were responsible for a spate of attacks in Uganda last year.

“So now, we have to counter that, and that means, from that press release, we are going to get more negative travel advisories that will come up, so we must be able to counter that by bringing more international media people who can be able to verify that it is safe and then they can report back,” added Ajorova as she presented UTB’s budget estimates for 2024/25.

Committee Chairperson Mwine Mpaka tasked UTB to provide a breakdown of how the UGX 1.2 billion that has been approved for engagement with international media will be spent, to which Ajorova said most of the funds will be spent on air tickets and travel inland for the team of journalists that will take part in this project.

Ajorova also highlighted that the Board would carry out several activities, including product promotion and investment for the new cities like Arua, Gulu, and Mbalein 2024/25, having completed a similar profile of Jinja City; thus, the need to expand this venture and cover some cities that will cost UGX 210 million.

UTB is also seeking funds to conduct a census of accommodation facilities in Kampala, Entebbe, and Jinja.

“We continue to register, inspect, and license different facilities, but we still have a challenge in knowing, for example, in Kampala, exactly what the total number of facilities that we have, so the database we have is incomplete so we would like to have it complete by doing a census and the concentration we know is high in the landscape of Entebbe, Kampala and Jinja. Once we finish this, then we will be able to go to other parts of the country,” added Ajarova.

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