Africa: Big Gains At 2021 Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo

Kampala, Uganda — The 6th 2021 Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo (POATE) can easily be described as a success going by the numbers shared on Apr.29 when it ended.

The organisers, Uganda Tourism Board (UTB), said a total of 424 exhibitors were recorded, representing a 182% increase from 150 in 2020. The number of hosted buyers were 425, representing a 750% increase from 50 last year.

“Despite a few fears and misgivings here and there, we were able to go ahead with the blessing of our mother Ministry; the Ministry of Tourism and some key stakeholders from the private sector. I am glad that these efforts have paid off,” Daudi Migereko, the Uganda Tourism Board Chairman said while closing the virtual expo.

“It has been a great learning experience,” Migereko added.

He said, the road to recovery from COVID-19 hit will be full of many unknowns “and it is my prayer and hope that we as government and the private sector keep supporting each other.”

Going forward, he said they commit to consistently invest in domestic expos as well as in attending foreign expos to further grow the sector.

As the private sector, he said, they participate fully and consistently in POATE because, for those countries that have succeeded at tourism and hosting expos like Germany, UK, South Africa, it is because their private sector plays a very key role in making sure the expos work.

“… at the end of the day, the government creates the opportunity, and it should be us the private sector to showcase what we have to sell,” he said.

The Deputy Chief Executive Officer for UTB, Bradford Ochieng, said the success achieved during POATE 2021 feeds into what is by and large an improving economic and tourism environment.

He referred to economic reports to paint a positive outlook for the tourism sector and the economy.

For instance, he said the International Monetary Fund and the Africa Development Bank have both in their revised economic outlook projected faster recovery for the world and Africa respectively.

The Bank of Uganda and Uganda Bureau of Statistics too in their April Monetary Policy statement, also reported that Uganda’s economic recovery was stronger than was projected and that overall, Uganda’s economic growth is expected to reach 4.0-4.5% in FY2021/22 up from lower growth levels reported in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

The World Tourism Organisation in their March 2021 outlook, projected a cautious recovery from a dampened first half of 2021 and subsequent growth in the second half of 2021 in arrivals of up to 66% compared to 2020 – which although below the 2019 figures, represents a positive trajectory, according to Ochieng.